Now for something really scary, Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp has been under fire since journalist Greg Palast and federal investigators found that the secretary of state had wrongfully purged 340,134 voters from Georgia’s list of registered voters, according to this article from Rolling Stone.
Kemp claimed that the voters had left the state or moved to another country. They hadn’t, but now, over 340,000 Georgia residents have been barred from voting in next month’s election.
Palast, who has been investigating Brian Kemp and voter suppression in Georgia for the past five years, obtained the list of unregistered voters only after he threatened a lawsuit against Kemp.
After Palast had received the list, he consulted experts who cross-referenced voter data with many other databases including cell phone bills and tax filings to see if any of the voters had actually moved. Most of them did not and were purged from voting anyway. The full list of people is available on Palast’s website which you can find here.
According to Palast in his Democracy Now! interview, Kemp used a tactic he calls “Purge by Postcard” to remove eligible voters from the list. Kemp sent postcards that looked like junk mail to voters who did not vote in the previous election and who lived in certain neighborhoods. If the postcards were not sent back, the voter was unregistered without any further notice.
This method used to be illegal. According to Palast’s article from Truthout, the Voter Registration Act of 1993 prohibited canceling the registration of a voter who chooses not to vote, but in June 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that election officials can legally purge voters who miss elections and do not return that postcard only if the failure to return the postcard was a reasonable indication that the voter had moved.
Kemp, however, refused to look at the cell phone and tax records that indicated that the 340,000 voters had not moved and even purged the voter registration of thousands of others who had simply moved within their county.
This purge has disproportionately affected minority populations within Georgia, particularly African-Americans, the poor, and Democrats, a fact that many critics say is no coincidence, especially considering Kemp’s history of culling the polls as secretary of state.
Last year alone, Kemp purged 107,000 people simply for not voting in the last election. More recently, he rejected the voting applications of 53,000 more people, 70% of whom were African-American, and left the voting records of over 6 million people open to hacking.
Audio obtained by Rolling Stone records Kemp as saying during Georgia Professionals for Kemp event last Monday concerning Abrams’ efforts on absentee ballot requests that, “They just have an unprecedented number of that which is something that continues to concern us, especially if everyone uses and exercises their right to vote – which they absolutely can – and mail those ballots in, we gotta have a heavy turnout to offset that.”
Unfortunately, Kemp’s methods are not uncommon currently. Palast cited other methods Republican officials have used to do the same thing.