President Trump has discussed voting fraud during the 2016 election quite a bit. It is a popular concern among some Republicans fearful that undocumented immigrants are voting illegally — and for Democrats. But if you talk to many black Americans, their biggest concerns when it comes to voting are fears about the erosion of voting rights — something that was discussed often after Brett M. Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court.
Those fears may be being validated in Georgia, where a tight governor’s race is pitting the current Republican secretary of state, Brian Kemp, against Democrat Stacey Abrams, who would be the first black woman to govern a state in American history.
The Associated Press reported Monday that Kemp is holding 53,000 registration applications because they were flagged by the state’s “exact match” system. The state legislature, which the Republicans control, introduced the system last year to make the process for validating registrations stricter and to curtail voter fraud, which is not a significant problem in Georgia or anywhere else in the United States.
For example, the “exact match” system would put someone named Beyoncé Knowles-Carter on the “pending” registration list if her voting application said Beyoncé Knowles Carter. Critics of this process have noted that black and Latino voters are disproportionately affected by these systems across the country, and Georgia is proof of that. Of those 53,000 applications being held by Kemp, 70 percent of them belong to black voters.
Although many black voters are upset with Kemp specifically, no evidence has emerged that the GOP candidate is intentionally trying to block black voters from voting for his opponent. But there is proof that “exact match” systems disproportionately affect voters who have low incomes and are more willing to vote for Democrats.
Abrams’s camp isn’t hesitating to directly implicate Kemp and his motivations.
“As he has done for years, Brian Kemp is maliciously wielding the power of his office to suppress the vote for political gain and silence the voices of thousands of eligible voters — the majority of them people of color,” said Abigail Collazo, Abrams’s director of strategic communications. “This isn’t incompetence; it’s malpractice. It is no surprise that Kemp is reprising these tactics now when multiple recent polls show his race against Stacey Abrams to be a dead heat.”