Abrams' campaign demands Kemp resignation

Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams' campaign is calling on Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp to resign following a report his office is using a controversial verification law to effectively suppress the minority vote in their race to become the state's next governor. CNN's Jessica Dean reports.

Posted: Oct 13, 2018 3:20 PM
Updated: Oct 13, 2018 3:46 PM

A coalition of advocacy groups has launched a lawsuit to block Georgia from enforcing a practice critics say endangers the votes of more than 50,000 people in November and potentially larger numbers headed into the 2020 presidential election cycle.

The Campaign Legal Center and Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law argued in the suit, which was filed in a federal district court on Thursday, that the state's "exact match" requirement violates the Voting Rights Act, the National Voter Registration Act and the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

The office of Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is now running for governor in a hotly contested race with Democratic former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, used the system from 2013 to 2016 but stopped in 2017 as part of a settlement stemming from separate litigation. But the Republican-held state legislature soon stepped in and passed the protocol into law. A recent Associated Press report found around 53,000 people -- nearly 70% of them African-Americans -- had their registrations placed in limbo because of some kind of mismatch with drivers license or social security information. Kemp, in a tweet, said, "The 53,000 Georgians on our 'pending' list can vote in the Nov. 6th election."

As the AP report stoked a national firestorm, the Abrams campaign called for Kemp to resign as the state's top elections official in order for Georgia voters to "have confidence that their Secretary of State (will) competently and impartially oversee this election."

In the lawsuit, which was formally threatened back in July and has no connection to the campaign, the plaintiffs argue that the controversial "exact match" checks had been shown "to disproportionately and negatively impact the ability of voting-eligible African-American, Latino and Asian-American applicants" even before the process was signed into law by the current governor, Republican Nathan Deal, in 2017.

Danielle Lang, senior legal counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, said Friday that the groups were not alleging that Kemp had violated the letter of the law, but suggested he had taken steps to enforce it as restrictively as possible.

"As secretary of state, you have discretion about the policy you put forward to enforce that law," Lang said, "and I have seen no evidence of any policy put in place by Secretary Kemp that would minimize who would get (unduly) caught in this net."

Kemp has said that those currently on the "pending" list will be able to vote in the coming election provided they can show approved identification at their polling places, which is already required by the state. Provisional ballots will also be made available in case related disputes cannot be sorted on the spot.

The Campaign Legal Center, however, is concerned that voters who cast ballots by mail will not have that opportunity, and if their ballots are rejected under the "exact match" rule -- and they do not successfully navigate the bureaucracy within a 26-month window -- they could see their names purged from the voter rolls. The current law allows the state to remove "inactive voters" who miss three cycles. This, Lang said, could speed up those removals.

Candice Broce, the press secretary and a staff attorney with Kemp's office, called the lawsuit a "publicity stunt" full of "bogus" claims.

"It is a complete waste of our time and taxpayer dollars," she said in a statement, arguing that the law "mirrors" another in Florida that survived a recent court challenge. "The 53,000 Georgians cited in their complaint can vote in the November 6th election. Any claims to the contrary are politically motivated and utterly false."

In a press release from August, after the threat of litigation had been made public, Kemp argued that "despite any claim to the contrary, it has never been easier to register to vote in Georgia and actively engage in the electoral process."

"The numbers do not lie," he said. "I defeated the Lawyers' Committee and their clients in 2014, and I look forward to successfully defending Georgia's common-sense verification law if they move forward with this litigation."

In tweets this week, Kemp touted what is expected to be a record 7 million or more registered voters going into next month's midterms while alleging that Abrams had "manufactured a 'crisis' to fire up her supporters and raise funds from left wing radicals throughout the country."

He has, throughout the campaign, attacked the former state House minority leader, who had a reputation for crafting bipartisan compromises during her time in the legislature, as a "radical" too closely aligned with progressive national Democrats and "outside agitators."

The escalating fights, both in the courtroom and on the campaign trail, mark a reprisal of past battles between Kemp and Abrams and, separately, nonpartisan groups like those bringing the new litigation against his office.

"If there is one person in Georgia who knows that the 'Exact Match' scheme has a discriminatory impact on minority voters, it's Brian Kemp," said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, "because we successfully sued him over a mirror policy in 2016."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 497379

Reported Deaths: 9907
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34085530
DeSoto31806398
Hinds31796621
Jackson24303377
Rankin21852387
Lee15413233
Madison14513278
Jones13770241
Forrest13401250
Lauderdale11936314
Lowndes10908184
Lamar10461135
Pearl River9428237
Lafayette8450137
Hancock7690126
Washington7361156
Oktibbeha7110129
Monroe6713173
Warren6635175
Neshoba6606204
Pontotoc6603101
Panola6458131
Marshall6378132
Bolivar6264145
Union595194
Pike5780152
Alcorn5630100
Lincoln5416134
George490479
Scott470698
Tippah464981
Prentiss464181
Leflore4626143
Itawamba4590104
Adams4570119
Tate4539109
Copiah444691
Simpson4419116
Wayne438572
Yazoo437586
Covington427194
Sunflower4215104
Marion4206107
Coahoma4114104
Leake407287
Newton380879
Grenada3691108
Stone358264
Tishomingo355991
Attala330189
Jasper328065
Winston312891
Clay305875
Chickasaw296567
Clarke290294
Calhoun277645
Holmes266587
Smith262550
Yalobusha232347
Tallahatchie225251
Walthall217663
Greene215448
Lawrence211140
Perry204555
Amite203454
Webster201645
Noxubee184940
Montgomery178956
Jefferson Davis170642
Carroll167338
Tunica158539
Benton147038
Kemper141241
Choctaw133026
Claiborne131037
Humphreys128838
Franklin119128
Quitman106227
Wilkinson104339
Jefferson94234
Sharkey64020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 811551

Reported Deaths: 15101
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1138721885
Mobile720161315
Madison51829685
Shelby37203339
Baldwin37018538
Tuscaloosa34853599
Montgomery33879718
Lee23097239
Calhoun22095468
Morgan20584368
Etowah19727496
Marshall18224298
Houston17270405
St. Clair15884337
Cullman15257289
Limestone15177197
Elmore14944283
Lauderdale14060294
Talladega13653270
DeKalb12530258
Walker11055363
Blount10071174
Autauga9874146
Jackson9760177
Coffee9171188
Dale8850180
Colbert8768200
Tallapoosa7028194
Escambia6714127
Covington6661179
Chilton6571160
Russell623458
Franklin5926105
Chambers5553142
Marion4942126
Dallas4848199
Clarke472681
Pike4713105
Geneva4557126
Winston4456101
Lawrence4247116
Bibb421186
Barbour355274
Marengo333889
Monroe329062
Randolph324663
Butler323694
Pickens313479
Henry310365
Hale308586
Cherokee299257
Fayette289779
Washington250850
Cleburne245758
Crenshaw243075
Clay238867
Macon229862
Lamar214846
Conecuh185051
Coosa177338
Lowndes173061
Wilcox166738
Bullock151744
Perry137940
Sumter130738
Greene125344
Choctaw86527
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