Georgia Democrats formally cast 16 electoral votes for Joe Biden

    Former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams was one of Georgia's 16 Democratic electors on Monday who applauded voters, elected officials and activists in securing a historic win for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in the Nov. 3 election. Stanley Dunlap/Georgia Recorder

    Georgia’s Democratic electors hailed it as history in the making Monday when they awarded President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris the state’s 16 electoral ballots.

    Monday’s electoral meeting in the Capitol’s Senate chamber led by former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams and Georgia Democratic Party Chair and newly-elected U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, was a chance for the 16 party stalwarts to applaud voters, elected officials and voting rights activists in securing a win.

    In the Nov. 3 election, Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Georgia since Bill Clinton defeated George H.W. Bush in 1992. Meanwhile, former U.S. senator Harris is the first woman of Black and Indian heritage to become second-in-command. 

    “This year we broke records for voter turnout,” Williams said. “Communities across our state stood up, and Georgians elected a Democratic president for the first time in 28 years. Not only did we flip Georgia blue. And not only did we restore the soul of our nation, but we’re sending the first Black woman to the White House.”

    The ceremony comes as Trump and some of his allies continue to challenge last month’s election results though  the record 5 million ballots were counted three times, verifying Biden’s narrow win by about 12,000 votes.

    It’s been a long time coming to get to this point, said the former gubernatorial candidate Abrams, whose Fair Fight voting rights organization played a role in this year’s presidential election outcome and two U.S. Senate races heading to runoffs.

    “We are here today to cast our lots in with Joseph R. Biden and Kamala D. Harris, but I ask us also to cast our prayers,” Abrams said. “We need leaders who are willing to go into the rough places and smooth out the edges, who were willing to go into the tight corners and carve out space. We demand in this moment, the leadership of moral character that is willing to admit moral favorability.”

    The electoral votes took place Monday inside the state Capitol where a heavy presence of Georgia State Patrol troopers and Capitol police patrolled the grounds. Unlike recent weeks, boisterous crowds of Trump supporters did not descend on the Capitol to complain the election was unfair. 

    Rep. Calvin Smyre, the dean of the state House, cast electoral votes for Clinton in 1992 and Jimmy Carter in 1976, the only Georgian who can make that claim. 

    “I can remember in the 1980s when we had around 800,000 (Democratic presidential) voters,” said the Columbus resident. “And then 1.2 million to now over 2.4 million. We’ve come a long, long way in Georgia. We’ve got a lot to be proud of.”

    As the Democratic electors met in the Senate chamber, 16 Republican counterparts held a meeting inside a Capitol conference room where they cast votes in support of Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

    Over the last several weeks, dozens of lawsuits filed in Georgia and several other battleground states where Trump narrowly lost have been dismissed or voluntarily pulled, many seeking to invalidate the results with accusations of extensive voting fraud. 

    Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer said the GOP electors decided to meet Monday in the event a pending lawsuit in Georgia state court challenging the outcome comes out in the GOP’s favor. 

    However, even without Georgia’s 16 votes, Biden and Harris collected enough electoral votes from other battleground states Monday to carry the election.

    Stanley Dunlap
    Stanley Dunlap has covered government and politics for news outlets in Georgia and Tennessee for the past decade. At The (Macon) Telegraph he told readers about Macon-Bibb County’s challenges implementing its recent consolidation, with a focus on ways the state Legislature determines the fate of local communities. He used open records requests to break a story of a $400 million pension sweetheart deal a county manager steered to a friendly consultant. The Georgia Associated Press Managing Editors named Stanley a finalist for best deadline reporting for his story on the death of Gregg Allman and best beat reporting for explanatory articles on the 2018 Macon-Bibb County budget deliberations. The Tennessee Press Association honored him for his reporting on the disappearance of Holly Bobo, which became a sensational murder case that generated national headlines.