Georgia Voter Suppression: Here Are All the Accusations Stacey Abrams's Opponent Brian Kemp Has Faced Ahead of Midterm Election

georgia voter suppression, brian kemp, stacey abrams
Georgia gubernatorial candidates Democrat Stacey Abrams (left) and Republican Brian Kemp (right) debate at Georgia Public Broadcasting, in Atlanta, on October 23. Kemp has been accused of voter suppression. John Bazemore-Pool/Getty Images

With a little more than a week until midterm elections, all eyes are on Georgia as allegations of voter suppression and a close and historic gubernatorial race heat up.

Stacey Abrams, who if elected would be the first black woman governor in America, has accused her opponent, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, of purposely keeping potential voters away from the polls in order to guarantee his win.

The NAACP filed a complaint with the Georgia State Board of Elections this week claiming that voters in multiple counties had notified them of defective polling machines. The voters claimed, according to The Root, that in some instances votes were being changed from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams to Republican candidate and Georgia's Chief Election Officer Brian Kemp.

"We've seen issues across the state of Georgia," said Khyla D. Craine, the NAACP's assistant general counsel, to The Root. "It's not something that's new, unfortunately. These machines are old, but it's incumbent upon the people running the election to ensure that machines are fully functional."

That is just one instance in a string of accusations of negligence and voter suppression in the state.

Earlier this month, an Associated Press report found that about 53,000 voter applications, nearly 70 percent of which are from people of color, were being delayed by Kemp's office for further verification.

Abrams accused Kemp of actively practicing voter fraud. "This farce about voter suppression and people being held up from being on the rolls … is absolutely not true," Kemp said of the accusations during a debate with Abrams earlier this week. "If you want to blame somebody, blame President Obama," he said.

Kemp explained that if the 53,000 people showed up with a government-issued ID on voting day, they would be allowed to cast their ballots. But they would not be able to fill out absentee ballots or vote by mail.

In 2017, Kemp similarly held up 34,000 voter registration applications because those registering had made typographical errors on their forms. Kemp was sued and agreed to end the program, but local lawmakers soon reinstated it.

Since 2012, Kemp has expelled nearly 1.5 million Georgians from the voter rolls—double the amount thrown off between 2008 and 2011, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Kemp took office as secretary of state and election commissioner in 2010.

"Voter suppression isn't only about blocking the vote," said Abrams during Tuesday's debate. "It is also about creating an atmosphere of fear, making sure their votes won't count."

Abrams and Kemp are currently in a tight race, with Kemp leading by less than 2 percentage points. In such a close election, 50,000 votes could easily be the difference between winner and loser.

If the election is close enough to demand a recount, Kemp has said that he would not recuse himself from his role as election officer because of conflicting interests. "I took an oath to serve as secretary of state, and that is what I will continue to do," he said.