Republican Brian Kemp resigned as Georgia’s secretary of state Thursday.
Gov. Nathan Deal said he has accepted the resignation and will name Robyn Crittenden, commissioner of the Department of Human Services, as the interim secretary.
The office of secretary of state oversees elections, but Kemp remained in place throughout his run for governor despite multiple calls for him to step down. When asked why he didn’t step down earlier, Kemp said he felt no need to.
“I was never concerned about the criticism I was getting,” Kemp said. “I think that was purely political. We’ve had other democratic secretary of state’s serve in their own election many, many times including a run for governor.”
Kemp has also argued former Secretary of State Cathy Cox stayed in office while she ran for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2006.
He now finds himself in a heated, controversial finish for the governor’s office with Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams. Kemp has declared victory in the race that has yet to be certified.
The secretary of state’s office announced Wednesday there were more than 20,000 outstanding provisional ballots, but Kemp campaign staffers said even if Abrams were to receive all the votes it would not be enough to trigger a runoff.
Meanwhile, Abrams’ campaign has gathered a team of lawyers and plans to take legal action to ensure all votes were properly received and accounted for.
As Kemp announced himself the victor with Gov. Deal, about 20 protesters gathered inside the State Capitol just outside the governor's office. They held signs asking for a runoff, saying this election wasn't fair.
Wanda Mosley, who lives in South Fulton, said Kemp stepping down today was meaningless.
"It's ceremonial," she said. "It's ridiculous. It's indicative of the kind of campaign he ran. A bunch of foolishness. I have no faith. I have zero confidence in him."
Abrams' campaign said she needs just under 26,000 votes to force a runoff and they believe enough votes are outstanding to do that.
The secretary of state's office announced it will certify all votes by next Wednesday.
Editor's note: This story was updated at 3:43 p.m. to include information on protesters and Abrams' campaign response.