Welcome to the continuing coverage of Brian Kemp’s performance as Secretary of State. Catch the first part here.*
In late August, an Athens-Clarke County resident tried to get an absentee ballot, only for election officials to discover that she was dead. Except she wasn’t dead, the Secretary of State just presumed her to be. That’s standard practice for the SoS, to remove dead people from the voting rolls, but you would think they’d have some evidence of a voter’s demise before turning a shovel of dirt onto their still warm voter registration.
But instead, hundreds of folks who were active voters and very much alive were “cancelled” by the SoS. It is unknown how many of these people attempted to vote and could not. Many seemed to have responded to news of their deaths only by continuing to live.
You will be glad to know that many of these voters have been returned to full health.
This is just the latest of missteps in the temperamental tango that is Kemp’s management of elections.
In August, he rejected the Federal government’s help in making sure Georgia’s system was safe from hacking, saying that fears of hacking were overblown: “It seems like now it’s just the D.C. media and the bureaucrats, because of the DNC getting hacked — they now think our whole system is on the verge of disaster because some Russian’s going to tap into the voting system,” Kemp, a Republican, told POLITICO in an interview. “And that’s just not — I mean, anything is possible, but it is not probable at all, the way our systems are set up.”
Recently, the FBI released news that over 20 states voter registration systems have been the target of Russian hackers, and at least 4 of those states have been successfully hacked. There has been no response from Kemp’s office as to which category Georgia is in. He may not even know.
Or maybe they didn’t need to hack because they attended the Brian Kemp CD Release Party.
Or perhaps Russian hackers felt they didn’t need to interfere with Georgia’s voter registrations efforts since Kemp’s office was doing that for them. Voting rights groups appear to feel that way.
He’s currently fighting at least two lawsuits from voting rights groups. In the most recent one, Kemp’s office is accused of using an “exact match” system that is 8 times more likely to strike an African-American voter’s registration than a white voter’s application. In response, Kemp’s office has tried to blunt the effect of the practice by processing 35k registrations that had been rejected improperly. That certainly would take some effort. Though maybe his time is spent defending the suit from February that alleges Kemp cancelled the registrations of 370,000 voters for failing to respond to a post card he sent them, which seems to be an extreme reaction. My grandmother complains that I don’t return calls, but I don’t cease being her grandson.
Choosing to protect our elections from Georgia voters rather than Russian hackers requires a lot of deleting, denying, and cancelling. Sounds like not doing your job is exhausting!
*The AJC’s Kristina Torres has been all over these voting issues and the above post owes itself to her reporting, check out her pieces here.