Abrams campaign calls on Georgia's secretary of state to resign over voter registration issues

Abrams campaign calls on Georgia's secretary of state to resign over voter registration issues

The campaign of Democrat Stacey Abrams, who’s running for Georgia governor, is demanding that her Republican opponent, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, resign in the wake of a report that tens of thousands of voter registration applications are on hold.

The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that more than 53,000 voter registration applications — 70 percent of them from black voters — are on hold after failing to meet the state’s “exact match” law.

That law marks an applicant’s registration as “pending” if the personal information on their voter registration form doesn’t match the information on the state's Department of Driver Services or the Social Security Administration. If marked pending, the applicant has 26 months to provide the accurate information.

Abrams and Democrats have accused Kemp, who leads the office that oversees Georgia elections, of the hold-up, saying he’s trying to suppress minority votes.

The Georgia Democrat called on Kemp’s office to cease using the “exact match” law going forward.

“As he has done for years, Brian Kemp is maliciously wielding the power of his office to suppress the vote for political gain and silence the voices of thousands of eligible voters - the majority of them people of color,” Abrams spokeswoman Abigail Collazo said in a statement.

“The Secretary of State’s office must do away with the discriminatory ‘exact match’ program and process all voter registrations immediately. In addition, Brian Kemp needs to resign his position, so that Georgia voters can have confidence that their Secretary of State competently and impartially oversee this election.”

CNN first reported news of Abrams’s campaign calling on Kemp to resign.

Kemp’s campaign has pushed back on the AP report, accusing Democrats of playing politics and denying it has sought to suppress votes.

In a statement to CNN, Kemp’s campaign said voters whose status is pending can resolve those issues at polling locations or could also cast a provisional ballot.

"While outside agitators disparage this office and falsely attack us, we have kept our head down and remained focused on ensuring secure, accessible, and fair elections for all voters," Kemp said in the statement to CNN.

"The fact is that it has never been easier to register to vote and get engaged in the electoral process in Georgia, and we are incredibly proud to report this new record."

Georgia's Secretary of State office directed The Hill to an August 3 statement it had issued saying that less than 1 percent of applicants had failed verification since January 2014.

Kemp's campaign did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Voting rights activists argue that the “exact match” law discriminates against minority voters.

But Kemp has maintained that the 53,000 on the pending list will be able to vote in November.

He took aim at “New Georgia Project,” which seeks to register minority voters and was led by Abrams while she was state House minority leader in 2013.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Kemp claimed that the voter registration group submitted “sloppy forms,” leading those applicants’ status to be pending under the “exact match” law.

Abrams and Kemp are facing off in a heated race for the governor’s mansion in the race to replace GOP Gov. Nathan Deal.

Polls show a tight race, with the most recent public survey showing Kemp up by 2 points, within the margin of error.

If Abrams is elected in November, she’d be the first black woman to serve as governor in U.S. history.