Georgia GOP candidate expresses concerns about opponent's voter turnout

Georgia Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp (R) expressed concern about turnout for his opponent in audio obtained by Rolling Stone, saying that it "continues to concern us, especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote.”

In the audio, reportedly recorded at a Georgia Professionals for Kemp event last Friday, Kemp expressed concern about the efforts of Stacey Abrams's (D) campaign to boost absentee and early voting.

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“They have just an unprecedented number of that,” he said in the audio. “Which is something that continues to concern us, especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote, which they absolutely can, and mail those ballots in, we gotta have heavy turnout to offset that.”

Kemp's campaign did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment on the recording.

The audio published Tuesday follows allegations raised earlier in the election that Kemp has used his position as secretary of state to purge voting rolls to his own benefit.

Georgia officials removed more than 100,000 people who had not voted in at least three years from the voter rolls last July in a move that critics said disproportionately affected minority voters, who are more likely to vote for Abrams.

The Georgia NAACP is suing Kemp over the purge.  

Additional questions have been raised during the campaign over Kemp's voter management, including a dispute over the state's "exact match law" that resulted in 53,000 voter registration applications, a majority of which came from black voters, being put on hold.

A spokesman from Kemp's campaign did not respond to Rolling Stone but previously said that "Kemp is fighting to protect the integrity of our elections and ensure that only legal citizens cast a ballot.” 

A spokesman from Kemp's campaign told The Hill that Kemp's campaign "is working around the clock to stop" the "San Francisco socialists and liberal billionaires from New York [who] are spending millions to buy the governor's race and advance their extreme agenda in Georgia."

Abigail Collazo, director of strategic communications for the Abrams campaign, told Rolling Stone that Kemp's comments represent a larger voter suppression effort. 

“Brian Kemp is barely trying to hide the shameful fact that his strategy is to win through voter suppression," she claimed.

"The idea that he, as Secretary of State, would be ‘concerned’ that hardworking Georgians are exercising their right to vote is disgraceful and outrageous.”

Kemp and Abrams are locked in a tight race for governor. Nonpartisan election handicapper Cook Political Report rates the race as a "toss-up."

-Updated 6:40 p.m.