Georgia NAACP: Some votes for Abrams are initially being changed to Kemp

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The Georgia NAACP reportedly filed complaints with the Georgia secretary of state saying some voting machines have been registering ballots cast for gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (D) as votes for her GOP opponent, Brian Kemp.

The civil rights chapter shared documents with USA Today that allege certain voting machines in Bartow County and Dodge County have failed to initially register the votes correctly.

“We’ve experienced this before,” Phyllis Blake, president of the Georgia NAACP, told the publication. “They ended up taking these old dilapidated machines out of service. The ones giving the problems. They should have been replaced about 10 years ago.”

{mosads}Blake told the publication she intends to file two more complaints involving similar issues in both Henry County and Cobb County. The complaints filed so far were on behalf of eight voters.

Pamela Grimes, one of those eight voters, told USA Today that she tried to cast a vote for Abrams several times at a polling site in Bartow County before the machine allowed her to unmark the box for Kemp and vote for Abrams.

“I was not going to leave until everything was the way I wanted it,’’ Grimes said. “If I had not been focused, my vote would have went for him.”

She added that she has since warned other voters “to pay attention at the polls.”

Dexter Benning, a Democratic member of the Bartow Board of Elections and Voter Registration, told the publication he raised concerns about voting machines with an election supervisor who said some machines may have a problem calibrating votes because they are older.

Benning reportedly used the same voting machine and told USA Today that he had to repeatedly touch the screen in order to make sure it registered the correct candidate.

“We’re telling people just to check it,” Benning said. “We’re also telling them to check and make sure they haven’t been purged from the voting rolls.”

He also said that with the recent controversy over voting concerns in the hotly contested governor’s race between Abrams and Kemp, who is Georgia’s current secretary of state, the last thing “we need to have is a problem with the machines.”

The report comes as complaints of voter suppression efforts, particularly affecting black voters, are garnering national attention. 

Abrams would become the first black woman in U.S. history to serve as a state governor.

Civil rights advocates have raised questions during the campaign over Kemp’s voter management as head of the state’s election system, including a dispute over the state’s “exact match law” that led to 53,000 voter registration applications, a majority of which came from black voters, being placed on hold.

Kemp’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment from The Hill, but his office denied efforts to suppress the vote in a statement to USA Today.

“If warranted, our office will open a formal investigation on behalf of the State Election Board,” Kemp Candice Broce spokeswoman told the publication. “We always encourage voters to reach out to our office if they experience any issues or witness any suspicious activity at the polls.” 

Abrams’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

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