Leaked Audio: Brian Kemp Expresses ‘Concern’ Over Get Out the Vote Efforts
A new Rolling Stone article says Brian Kemp was caught on audio expressing concern at Abrams’ get out the vote efforts – is that a conflict of interest?
The Georgia race for governor is a tight battle between Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams and in the center of that battle is a controversy over voter rights. Kemp has been accused of voter suppression and now Rolling Stone has reported receiving leaked audio of a recent Kemp event where he expressed concern over the possibility that everyone would use their right to vote.
“Exact-Match” and Voter Purge vs Voter Maintenance
Activists have accused Kemp of suppressing the minority vote through a process known as “exact-match” which purges voter registrations when voter forms do not exactly match the information on file with either the Georgia DMV or Social Security Administration. This means minor differences in the forms like using the term junior, including a middle initial, or different punctuation could result in someone’s voter registration being tossed.
The Associated Press reported, Kemp, in his role as Secretary of State for Georgia, had suspended 53,000 voter registration applications and while Georgia’s population is roughly 32 percent black, over 70 percent of the registrations on hold belong to African-Americans.
While Kemp’s opponents call his tactics voter purges, he calls it “voter roll maintenance.” Since 2012, Kemp’s office has canceled over 1.4 million voter registrations and nearly 670,000 registrations were canceled in 2017 alone.
Kemp’s opponent, Stacey Abrams, is seeking to become the first female African-American governor in the U.S. and has been actively involved in registering voters across the state with her group the New Georgia Project. The Project was founded in 2013 with the goal of registering voters. Kemp accuses the organization of submitting supply forms, leading to forms not being processed.
Kemp has also countered the allegations by saying it has never been easier to register to vote thanks to a new online voter registration system. In early October Kemp announced Georgia had hit a new voter registration record and had hit 6,915,000 active and inactive voters, a number likely to increase as more forms are processed.
What Brian Kemp Said
New audio leaked to the Rolling Stone may boost Abrams’ argument that Kemp is trying to suppress minority votes. The Rolling Stone reported receiving 21 minutes worth of audio from a “Georgia Professionals for Kemp” event held last Friday at the Blind Pig Parlour Bar near Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood.
According to Rolling Stone, not long after Kemp began his remarks, the Kemp expressed worry about early voting and “the literally tens of millions of dollars that they [the Abrams camp] are putting behind the get-out-the-vote effort to their base.”
Kemp then asserted that much of that Abrams effort is focused on absentee ballot requests. “They have just an unprecedented number of that,” he said, “which is something that continues to concern us, especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote — which they absolutely can — and mail those ballots in, we gotta have heavy turnout to offset that.”
Are Brain Kemp’s statements a conflict of interest? As Secretary of State, Kemp is responsible for registering Georgia voters. While Rolling Stone acknowledged it’s not unusual for a political candidate to worry about their opponent’s get out the vote efforts, they also acknowledged Kemp’s concern about an increasing number of early voters raises clear questions about a conflict of interest.
According to the latest polls, Abrams and Kemp are neck and neck in the Georgia governor’s race. A new poll from Opinion Survey shows Kemp with 48.4 percent of the vote and Abrams with 47.7 percent of the vote. Running as a libertarian is Ted Metz, who has 1.3 percent of the vote.
In such a tight race, determining who will become the next governor of Georgia may come down to how many people vote. The more people that vote, the better Abrams’ chances are.