Georgia’s Republican Candidate for Governor Is Blocking 53,000 Voter Registrations

Seventy percent of the registrations placed in limbo by Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office are from African Americans.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp declares victory in the Republican primary for governor in July 2018 in Athens, Georgia.Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

Tens of thousands of would-be voters in Georgia have had their voter registrations put on hold, threatening their ability to cast a ballot in November, due to a policy implemented by Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is also the Republican candidate in next month’s election for governor. Of the 53,000 applications in limbo, 70 percent are from African Americans, according to an investigation by the Associated Press, even though Georgia is approximately 32 percent black.

Kemp’s office implemented an “exact match” policy, which requires information provided in a voter’s registration application to match up exactly with that person’s existing information in either the state’s Department of Driver Services database or the Social Security Administration’s records. A dropped hyphen in a last name or a middle initial instead of a middle name is enough to put an application on hold. The policy, which Kemp has carried out in different forms for years, has a history of disproportionately flagging and disenfranchising minority voters.

Kemp’s office blamed a voter registration group founded by Stacey Abrams, his Democratic opponent for governor, rather than his own office’s protocols, according to the AP:

Kemp accuses the organization of being sloppy in registering voters, and says they submitted inadequate forms for a batch of applicants that was predominantly black. His office has said the New Georgia Project used primarily paper forms and “did not adequately train canvassers to ensure legible, complete forms…”

His office says “the law applies equally across all demographics,” but these numbers became skewed by “the higher usage of one method of registration among one particular demographic group.”

Voters whose applications are frozen in “pending” status have 26 months to fix any issues before their application is canceled, and can still cast a provisional ballot. 

Polls show the race between Abrams and Kemp is neck-and-neck. Abrams is relying on voters of color and young people to turn out in large numbers to vote for her. Kemp’s office has made that more difficult by implementing a policy that is stalling the registrations for thousands of black voters.

We want to hear from you: If you or someone you know has been blocked from voting, let us know. We may publish a selection of your responses in a follow-up story. You can fill out the form below, send us an email at talk@motherjones.com, or leave us a voicemail at (510) 519-MOJO.

MORE HARD-HITTING JOURNALISM

In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones, a special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.