Georgia Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp is running for governor against Stacey Abrams, who could very well become the first black woman to become the governor of a U.S. state. He’s running amidst charges that he’s trying his best to stop black voters from casting ballots, and some new audio obtained by Rolling Stone should do nothing to dispel that notion.
At an event in Atlanta last week, Kemp lamented the fact that a whole lot of people are voting. From Rolling Stone, which received the audio from someone who attended the “Georgia Professionals for Kemp” event:
Not long after Kemp began his remarks, the candidate 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.”
According to Rolling Stone, Kemp’s campaign confirmed the event took place but “did not respond to multiple requests for comment about the specific remarks.” I have also reached out to both the Kemp and Abrams camps for comment and will update this post if I hear back.
It’s not exactly breaking news for a candidate to rile up supporters like this, but given that Kemp is also the official overseeing voting in his state, it’s a weird thing to talk in disappointed terms about people exercising their right to vote. It also doesn’t help that Georgia seems to be having so many damn problems trying to carry out a free and fair election.
CNN reported over the weekend that, in Gwinnett County, which went for Hillary Clinton by six points in 2016, officials have reportedly rejected 595 absentee ballots, a number that makes up over a third of all rejected absentee ballots in the state even though Gwinnett makes up just si percent of ballots cast. Over half of the rejected ballots, according to CNN, belonged to black and Asian-American voters.
To make matters worse, Kemp himself is being sued by the NAACP after an AP report earlier this month showed that his office had placed more than 53,000 voter registrations on hold. Nearly 70 percent of the would-be voters whose registrations have been held up are black.
Tonight, Kemp squares off with Abrams and Libertarian Party candidate Ted Metz in the first Georgia gubernatorial debate. On Monday night, the New York Times reported that in college, Abrams had participated in the burning of a Georgia state flag, which at the time included a depiction of the Confederate battle flag. Splinter’s official position is that this is badass.