GA lawmaker arrested amid protest to count every vote in Gov. race

Sen. Nikema Williams (D-Atlanta) is arrested by capitol police during a protest over election ballot counts in the rotunda of the state capitol building Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

A Georgia state senator who joined protesters at the state Capitol building in Atlanta in an effort to make sure all the ballots from last week’s gubernatorial election are counted was arrested on Tuesday.

State Sen. Nikema Williams (D-Atlanta) was arrested in the rotunda after authorities said they issued warnings for the demonstrators to disperse.

“I stood peacefully next to my constituents because they wanted their voices to be heard, and now I’m being arrested,” Williams told reporters after her hands were zip-tied by police. “And now I’m being arrested.”

The demonstrations were sparked by concerns over the ongoing recount in the too-close-to-call governor’s race between Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams. A federal judge blocked Georgia’s secretary of state, who until last Thursday was Kemp, from certifying election results until at least this coming Friday in order to allow time to review thousands of provisional ballots.

The protesters chanted “Count every vote!” during the demonstration and “Let her go!” as Williams was being arrested, WSB-TV reported. Several other people were also arrested, according to the station.

“When a sitting senator, who is the vice chair of the state Democratic Party, is thrown into a paddy wagon at the state capitol, it is a stark reminder that our right to freely assemble is at risk,” said state Sen. Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta), according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

If when all the votes are counted, neither candidate has won more than 50 percent, the governor’s contest would go to a runoff election between Kemp and Abrams on Dec. 4.