Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp is in hot water yet again, this time over leaked audio of him warning donors about Georgia voters turning out in overwhelming support of Black Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams in the upcoming mid-term elections.
In damning audio obtained by Rolling Stone magazine, the Republican nominee for Georgia governor lamented Abrams’ strong voter turnout operation, saying it “continues to concern us, especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote.” Kemp’s comments came during a ticketed campaign event held last Friday near Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood, a source who attended the event told the publication.
Not long into his remarks, the gubernatorial candidate voiced concern about early voting and “the literally tens of millions of dollars that [the Abrams camp] are putting behind the get-out-the-vote effort to their base.”
“They have just an unprecedented number of that,” Kemp added, noting Abrams’ focus on absentee ballot requests. “We’ve gotta have heavy turnout to offset that.”
This isn’t the first time Kemp has expressed how worried he is about voters, particularly Black voters, casting their ballots. He’s already faced heat over his decision to suspend more than 53,000 voter registration applications, 70 percent of which were filed by Black voters, for violating the state’s flawed “exact match” system.
Moreover, a report published by American Public Media last week revealed Kemp purged nearly 107,000 voters from the rolls in 2017 because they failed to vote in previous elections, an action better known as the “use it or lose it” law. The GOP candidate is also facing a lawsuit by the ACLU accusing Kemp’s office of tossing out at least 600 absentee ballots from Georgia’s most racially diverse county, Gwinnett.
Kemp’s role as overseer of Georgia’s elections has sparked calls for him to recuse himself, as critics argue his position as a top election official presents a clear conflict of interest.
“Brian Kemp is barely trying to hide the shameful fact that his strategy is to win through voter suppression,” Abigail Collazo, communications director for the Abrams campaign, told Rolling Stone. “The idea that he, as Secretary of State, would be ‘concerned’ that hardworking Georgians are exercising their right to vote is disgraceful and outrageous.”
“Brian Kemp should resign immediately so that Georgians can be sure the election will be administered in an impartial and competent manner,” she added.
Kemp’s campaign hasn’t yet commented on the candidate’s remarks.