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A Big Governor's Race Takes a Nasty Turn Late

Stacey Abrams accuses Brian Kemp of suppressing black voters as secretary of state in Georgia
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2018 9:39 AM CDT
A Big Governor's Race Takes a Nasty Turn Late
Georgia gubernatorial candidates Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp.   (AP Photos/John Amis, File)

(Newser) – Voters in Georgia will elect a new governor next month, and the race already had been on the national radar: Democrat Stacey Abrams is hoping to become the nation's first female African-American governor. She's running against Republican Brian Kemp, currently Georgia's secretary of state, and some serious new accusations have raised the contest's national profile even higher. Abrams says Kemp is taking advantage of his current job to suppress black voters, an accusation he says is an outrageous distortion of the facts. Details and developments:

  • 53,000 voters: The key story to read on all this is from the AP. Using a public records request, it found that 53,000 voters' registrations are on hold in the secretary of state's office, and the vast majority affect black voters. What's more, the AP notes that while 32% of Georgia's population is black, the list of on-hold registrations is about 70% black.
  • Exact match: The registrations have been flagged under the state's "exact match" policy, which Kemp defends as necessary for voter integrity but critics say is needlessly pedantic. If a voter's registration doesn't match the voter's DMV or Social Security records—even by a dropped hyphen in a married name, for example—the registration is flagged.

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  • What Abrams says: She calls Kemp "a remarkable architect of voter suppression," and her campaign has called on Kemp to resign from his post, reports CNN. "As he has done for years, Brian Kemp is maliciously wielding the power of his office to suppress the vote for political gain and silence the voices of thousands of eligible voters—the majority of them people of color," says a spokeswoman. Watch Abrams herself on the Daily Show.
  • What Kemp says: His office maintains that it's never been easier to vote in Georgia, and he blames Abrams for the big number of flagged registrations. Kemp says that an initiative started by Abrams called the New Georgia Project, whose aim was to sign up young minority voters, resulted in thousands of "sloppy forms." He also says that these 53,000 flagged voters will be able to vote on Nov. 6, either by straightening out discrepancies ahead of time or at the voting station.
  • A lawsuit: This week, advocacy groups filed a lawsuit to end the "exact match" system and get those affected onto the voter registration rolls, reports the New York Times. The groups say the policy violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965, among other things.
  • One critic's take: John Stoehr of Editor & Publisher sums all this up in a tweet: "So the guy running for GA governor is the guy managing GA's voter rolls, who's also the guy purging GA's voter rolls in order to win the race for GA governor. Got that?"
  • Counter-point: In a fundraising email, Kemp accused Abrams of exploiting the situation: "Clearly, Stacey Abrams is afraid to run on her record," he writes. "Instead, Abrams manufactures outrage off a 'problem' she created. Abrams uses fear to fund-raise and liberal billionaires continue to bankroll her corrupt enterprise."
(Read more Georgia stories.)

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