Brian Kemp’s Voter Purge Reaches 340,000 As Georgia Election Investigation Continues

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp accused of purging voters
Jessica McGowan / Getty Images

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is facing stiff competition from Stacy Abrams in the Georgia gubernatorial election race, is also facing lawsuits over alleged voter suppression. Greg Palast, who has filed suit against Kemp, discovered in a recent investigation that Kemp had incorrectly purged the voter registrations of 340,134 Georgia voters. Kemp claimed that the voters had left the state of Georgia or moved to another country, but John Lenser, who led the review of purged voters, found that they had remained at their original address and never should have been removed, according to Rolling Stone.

Kemp originally attempted to keep Palast from obtaining the purged voter list, but Palast was able to acquire it after filing suit against Kemp.

“It began five years ago, when Kemp stonewalled my first requests for information on purges in Georgia, first for Al Jazeera and Rolling Stone, now for Truthout and Democracy Now!” said Palast. “It took my lawyer’s threat of a federal lawsuit, filed last week in Atlanta federal court, to blast the list of the electorally doomed from Kemp’s hands.”

After receiving the list, Palast was able to discover the hundreds of thousands of incorrectly purged voters by cross-referencing the list with other databases such as cell phone bills and tax filings to see which voters had in fact moved. The list of purged voter’s names can be found on Palast’s website. These voters will be unable to participate in the 2018 midterm elections, and will have to re-register to vote in the next election.

Due to a June, 2018, Supreme Court ruling that reversed the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, Kemp’s machinations are actually legal. If a voter misses an election and does not respond to a notice sent by mail, the Supreme Court ruled that it was legal to remove them from the list of registered voters, a tactic Palast referred to as “Purge By Postcard.” In her dissenting opinion of the verdict, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that the practice was part of “concerted state efforts to prevent minorities from voting and to undermine the efficacy of their votes.”

Kemp’s “Purge By Postcard” bid to remove eligible voters from the rolls came in the form of a postcard that could easily have been mistaken for spam by voters who failed to participate in the previous election. Voters who did not return the postcard were purged from the registration rolls without being informed that it was happening.

Kemp has a growing record of voter suppression, also according to Rolling Stone. Numerous efforts to cull the votes of Democratic and minority voters have dogged Kemp’s legacy, culminating in the release of an audio recording of Kemp as he spoke to potential donors in which he says that the campaign of Stacy Abrams “continues to concern us, especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote.”

Palast’s lawsuit is the third major suit filed against Kemp in relation to the 2018 election. As reported by CNN, Kemp was sued in August for failing to secure his state’s voting system and allowing a massive breach that exposed the personal information of over 6 million Georgia voters, while another suit emerged after an abnormal number of absentee ballots were canceled in Gwinnett County, which is Georgia’s most racially diverse county.