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The GOP Is Leading a Massive Purge of Registered Voters in Georgia

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. (YouTube screen grab)

As Georgia’s Democratic candidate for governor, Stacey Abrams, called for voters in her state to fight Republican efforts at voter suppression by showing up at polls in large numbers in next month’s election, a national grassroots group reported Secretary of State Brian Kemp—also the GOP’s gubernatorial candidate—to the Justice Department late Wednesday night for blatantly violating the Voting Rights Act in order to swing the upcoming election in his own favor.

The Democratic Coalition is among those that have expressed outrage over a massive voter purge in the state which has disproportionately affected black voters, just before residents prepare to choose between Abrams—who would be the country’s first black female governor—and Kemp himself in the November 6 election.

Esquire political columnist Charles P. Pierce called the Abrams-Kemp race “ground zero in the battle American democracy,” and tweeted that outside observers should be present on Election Day in Georgia to ensure the vote is legitimate—as they would in fledgling democracies overseas.

An analysis by the Associated Press estimates that Kemp, whose office oversees the state’s elections and voter registration, has purged 53,000 registrants from the rolls by exploiting a 2013 “exact match” rule that states voters’ application forms must exactly match Georgia’s existing state records for every resident. Seventy percent of those registrations now listed as “pending” as a result of the law, the AP found, belong to African-Americans.

On MSNBC‘s “Morning Joe” on Thursday, Abrams said she was “deeply worried” that many Georgia voters “will be disenfranchised in this election”—by the actions that Kemp has taken.

“I want people to understand that voter suppression has two effects,” Abrams said. “One is to stop people from voting, but the other is to scare people out of voting and I do not want them to have the effect on either side.”

The voter purge is just Kemp’s latest attempt to disenfranchise voters in Georgia, Abrams added, noting that she led a lawsuit against him four years ago over the “exact match” law, forcing his to reinstate 33,000 canceled voter registrations. In August, as Common Dreams reported, the Randolph County Board of Elections rejected the state’s proposal to close more than three-quarters of the majority-black county’s polling places.

Noting that she plans to continue her earlier legal battle against Kemp’s suppression efforts, Abrams urged Georgians to go to the polls in huge numbers as a way to counteract the impact of those whose names have been purged. 

“We have enough registered voters in Georgia to win this election,” Abrams said. “We’ve added new voter registrants, in fact, 250,000 new registrants are on the rolls being processed right now. I want them to recognize that their voices can be the amplification of those who have been told they can’t vote.”

Julia Conley / Common Dreams

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