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Jimmy Carter to Brian Kemp: Resign as Secretary of State

The former president is just the latest public figure to take on the Georgia secretary of state and Republican gubernatorial nominee’s voter suppression tactics

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, Republican primary candidate for governor, 2018

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, Republican candidate for governor, 2018.

John Amis/AP/Shutterstock

Former President Jimmy Carter weighed in on the controversy surrounding the Georgia gubernatorial race, calling for Republican nominee Brian Kemp — who oversees elections as Georgia’s secretary of state — to resign from his position. “I have officially observed scores of doubtful elections in many countries, and one of the key requirements for a fair and trusted process is that there be non-biased supervision of the electoral process,” Carter wrote in a note obtained by the Associated Press.

Georgia’s governor race has drawn headlines throughout the heated midterm cycle for widespread accusations of voter suppression against Kemp. The Republican is running against Democrat Stacey Abrams, the first female African-American gubernatorial nominee in U.S. history.

Kemp recently suspended over 53,000 voter applications, 70 percent of which were reportedly filed by black residents, for violating Georgia’s “exact match” verification standard. He also allegedly purged an estimated 107,000 voters last year for not voting in the prior election. The politician is facing multiple lawsuits — including one for leaving over 6 million Georgia voting records vulnerable to hacking, and another following reports that an abnormally high number of absentee ballots were rejected in the state’s most racially diverse county, Gwinnett.

In his letter, Carter, a Georgia resident, argued that “popular confidence [in the election] is threatened not only by the undeniable racial discrimination of the past and the serious questions that the federal courts have raised about the security of Georgia’s voting machines, but also because you are now overseeing the election in which you are a candidate.”

He continued, “This runs counter to the most fundamental principle of democratic elections — that the electoral process be managed by an independent and impartial election authority. Other secretaries of state have stepped down while running for election within their jurisdiction, to ensure that officials without a direct stake in the process can take charge and eliminate concerns about a conflict of interest.”

Carter urged the candidate to “step aside and hand over to a neutral authority the responsibility of overseeing the governor’s election” — a measure to “foster voter confidence.”

“This would not address every concern, but it would be a sign that you recognize the importance of this key democratic principle and want to ensure the confidence of our citizens in the outcome,” he wrote.

Rolling Stone recently obtained audio from a ticketed Kemp campaign event in which the Republican expressed that Abrams’ voter turnout strategy “continues to concern us, especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote.”

Following that report, Abigail Collazo, Director of Strategic Communications for the Abrams campaign, also called for Kemp to resign. “Brian Kemp is barely trying to hide the shameful fact that his strategy is to win through voter suppression,” she said. “The idea that he, as Secretary of State, would be ‘concerned’ that hardworking Georgians are exercising their right to vote is disgraceful and outrageous … Brian Kemp should resign immediately so that Georgians can be sure the election will be administered in an impartial and competent manner.”

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