Georgia Secretary Of State Brian Kemp’s Office Blocks More Than 53,000 Voter Applications

Kemp is running for governor of the state of Georgia.

Brian Kemp stands at a podium during an election event
Jessica McGowan / Getty Images

Kemp is running for governor of the state of Georgia.

Brian Kemp, Republican secretary of state in Georgia, is blocking 53,000 people from registering to vote. Kemp is using a controversial program that requires an “exact match” to put on hold thousands of voter registrations according to WABE in Atlanta. Kemp is also running for governor, which means that he is in position to decide who can vote in the upcoming election.

A report from AP shows that not only are 53,000 potential voters currently being blocked from participating in the election, but a full 70 percent of those voters are black. This reveals a potential racial bias given that about 32 percent of Georgia’s population is black.

The “exact match” standard that Kemp is using requires that any information on a voter application must completely match the information that the government has on file. For instance, if a citizen registered with the Georgia Department of Driver Services or the Social Security Administration with their middle initial or a hyphen in their last name, they must use that exact information on their voter registration. If they don’t, their application will be frozen.

Once an application is frozen, the applicant has 26 months to correct their information. They can also cast a provisional ballot in the election, if necessary. Since 2012, Kemp has used the exact match standard to cancel 1.4 million voter registrations.

Critics say that the “exact match” system is plagued by a high error rate and is flawed because of the racial disparity that the system has produced.

Kemp claims that the racial disparity in voter applications is the fault of the New Georgia Project. The group is a voter registration program founded by Stacey Abrams, Kemp’s Democratic opponent in the 2018 election. According to Kemp, the New Georgia Project has been submitting sub-standard applications.

“The handwriting was so bad or they were missing an address or birthday or last name or the state was Alabama,” he said last month.

“The New Georgia Project was having press conferences with 84,000 stacks of paper saying the secretary of state’s not registering voters. But when you pull the form out, you know, you’re missing an address. I mean, you can’t register someone if you don’t know where they live,” he continued.

Polls show Abrams and Kemp even in the polls as of early September.

A similar “exact match” system has been upheld in Florida courts, and Barry Fleming, the state representative who wrote the law that enacted the system in Georgia, says that it is legal under federal law.