October 15, 2018
Republican Brian Kemp, Georgia’s current secretary of state and aspiring gubernatorial candidate, has been hit with a lawsuit claiming his office is jeopardizing the rights of 53,000 of minority voters—and now his Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams, says that the only way to head off the problem is for him to resign.
A coalition of civil rights groups filed suit against Kemp in his official capacity as secretary of state on October 11, the Washington Post reports—alleging that a 2017 voting law (HB268) has delayed the voter registrations of more than 50,000 people — of whom approximately 80% are black, Latino or Asian American.
Specifically, the case claims, the 2017 measure codified the voter registration database “exact match” protocol, which the complainants said, already had been “shown to disproportionately and negatively impact the ability of voting-eligible African-American, Latino, and Asian-American applicants to register to vote.”
According to the Post, the “exact match” law requires election officials to flag and pause any voter registration application, if the identifying information doesn’t precisely match the voter’s information in existing records, even because of something as small as a missing hyphen or a transposed number. Although voters are not barred from casting a ballot, they must take extra steps to verify their identities
The case was jointly filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta by Asian Americans advancing Justice/Atlanta, the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, the New Georgia Project, the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Offices, and the ProGeorgia State Table.
The “exact match” law requires election officials to flag and pause any voter registration application if the identifying information doesn’t precisely match the voter’s information in existing records, even because of something as small as a missing hyphen or a transposed number. Although voters are not barred from casting a ballot, they must take extra steps to verify their identities.
Kemp, who is locked in a tight race against Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams—with only a 2-percentage-point lead over his Democratic challenger of Friday, October 12, according to results of a poll conducted by the Atlanta Journal Constitution— is tasked with carrying out the voting law in his role as secretary of state, which has led Democrats to accuse him of attempts to suppress the minority vote to gain an edge in the election.
On October 11, Abrams’s campaign called on Kemp to resign as secretary of state “so that Georgia voters can have confidence that their Secretary of State competently and impartially oversee this election,” spokesperson Abigail Collazo said in a statement to CNN.
Abrams, a former state representative and founder of a voting rights advocacy group, would become the first female black governor in the nation’s history if she wins.
Kemp has denied the allegations of any impropriety or voting rights violations, characterizing the accusations from Abrams and Democrats on Twitter as misleading and a manufactured problem. He emphasized that Georgia has “shattered” its all-time voter registration record this year, with more than 6.8 million voters.
Candice Broce, spokesperson for the secretary of state’s office, said in a statement to The Washington Post that the claims in the lawsuit are “bogus” and amount to a political stunt. She said the affected voters have been notified about how to contact local officials to fix their pending registration applications.
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