Laura Ashley Powell
Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp is being sued by multiple civil rights groups after approximately 53,000 voter applications have been put on hold in the state three weeks before election day.
An overwhelming amount of those applications belong to African American individuals. Kemp, who holds jurisdiction over voting in the state, is also Georgia’s Republican nominee for Governor in the November election.
According to Johnny Kauffman, a reporter from Atlanta, the applications in question have been stopped because they are reported to have errors. According to Kauffman, Georgia has a controversial process called “’exact match” that compares the information on the individual’s voter applications with the information in other government databases.
“So basically, it works like this, right? You have—there’s just, like, one letter off on your application – maybe it’s missing a hyphen or there’s, like, a misspelling, maybe a poll or an election worker inputs the information wrong,” said Kauffman in an interview with NPR. “If something like that happens, then the application is frozen and people are not put on the voter registration list.”
If a voter application is pulled due to an error, it may still go on a pending voter registration list and the individual will still be able to vote. In order to vote with a flagged application, however, the individual must bring their photo ID with them when they go to the polls.
“Civil rights groups, though, are saying, well, that’s not enough,” said Kauffman. “You know, this is going to create longer lines, confusion and it could discourage people from voting.”
These civil rights groups have been pointing out that these flagged applications have disproportionately affected people of color, which leads to a possible violation of the Voting Rights Act. Kemp passed the legislation to enact the “exact match” protocol early this year as an attempt to fight voter fraud.
Another highly controversial law in Georgia affecting voter eligibility is what is called the “use it or lose it” law, which takes away an individual’s ability to vote if they have not voted or contacted election officials in the past three years.
In this current election, around 107,000 voters have lost their ability to vote due to this law. An investigation by American Public Media showed that many of these individuals could be entirely unaware that they are no longer able to vote and may be in for an unfortunate surprise if they show up at the polls in November.
This situation is made worse by the backdrop of numerous claims of voter fraud, oppression and interference made on both sides of the political spectrum. Kemp’s opponent for the November race is Democrat nominee Stacey Adam-Abrams, who also happens to be the first African American candidate that a major party in Georgia has ever nominated. Adam-Abrams, in light of the controversy, has urged African-Americans who can vote to do so on behalf of those who are not able to.
Adam-Abrams is attempting to motivate their base voters and convince as many of their constituents as they can to go to the polls. Current polls show that the race will be very close, so it all depends on voter attendance.