(EDITOR’S NOTE, 10/12/18, 2:13 PM ET: The original headline for this article, “70% of Voters Purged from Rolls by GA Gubernatorial Candidate Brian Kemp Are Black,” has been changed to “70% of Voter Registrations Blocked by GA Gubernatorial Candidate Brian Kemp Are Black.” This article originally implied that 70 percent of the 1.4 million registrations Kemp purged from the voter rolls were of black voters. However, that 70 percent figure should have been attributed to the 53,000 registrations currently on hold in Kemp’s office. We have corrected the error.)
Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, is also the state’s Republican candidate for governor. And his “voter roll maintenance” has purged 1.4 million names from the list of eligible voters since taking office in 2012.
670,000 registrations were purged last year alone, and 53,000 voter registrations are currently sitting on hold on Kemp’s desk. While Georgia’s population is 32 percent black, the population of registrations Kemp currently has on hold is almost 70 percent black, according to WABE.
In total, Kemp has removed one in ten Georgians from the voter rolls.
Former state representative Stacey Abrams, Kemp’s opponent, charges that he’s using his office as Secretary of State to tilt the scales in his favor in November. Voter advocacy groups agree.
Kemp is being sued by voting rights activists over his purges and the racial way that his systems have been applied. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Rainbow/PUSH, Georgia Coalition for The Peoples Agenda and the New Georgia Project are all parties to the lawsuit.
Aside from the purged, Kemp’s office employs other methods to “protect” the election. Of the 53,000 registrations Kemp is holding, many were flagged by the state’s “exact match” system. Information on a voter file, under this system, must precisely match information held by the Georgia Department of Driver Services or the Social Security Administration.
This means a missing hyphen in a last name in any of multiple government documents might potentially prevent someone from being able to vote. The state also does not seem to notify people flagged by the “exact match” system.
The refrain is the same as any other instance of voter suppression: preventing voter fraud. The notion of rampant voter fraud used to justify measures like Kemp’s purges or the “exact match” system has, of course, been thoroughly debunked.
“It is insulting to know that we must still fight a discriminatory electoral system that continues trying to eradicate the accomplishments of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and the sacrifices we’ve given for the right to vote,” said Charles Steele, President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
The efforts Kemp has gone to over the years to limit the right to vote is truly impressive, and he refused to recuse himself from administration of an election in which he was a candidate for Governor.
Kemp did not immediately return Grit Post’s requests for comment.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.