Judge Strikes Down Georgia Voting Restrictions, Dealing a Blow To Brian Kemp Days Before Election
A federal judge ruled on Friday that Georgia must change its procedures to make it easier for some people flagged under the state’s restrictive “exact match” law to vote, dealing a blow to Republican gubernatorial candidate and Secretary of State Brian Kemp.
U.S. District Judge Eleanor L. Ross ruled that the procedures were likely to result in the violation of voting rights for a large group of people and needed to be halted immediately. She said Kemp’s restrictions raised “grave concerns for the Court about the differential treatment inflicted on a group of individuals who are predominantly minorities.”
The move comes just days before the state gubernatorial election. The race between Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams has drawn national attention.
The “exact match” law flags voter registrations that are found to have discrepancies, such as a dropped hyphen, with other official identifications. Potential voters are allowed to settle the discrepancy by providing proof of identity.
The Judge also ordered Kemp to issue a news release explaining how those flagged for potential citizenship issues could still vote by proving their citizenship, as well as offering a phone number for them to call with any questions, the Washington Post reports.
Kemp’s actions as secretary of state have been scrutinized in the wake of a report from the Associated Press that he had purged more than 107,000 voter registrations by disproportionately black voters under the state’s exact-match requirements.
The action raised fears of voter suppression, accusations that were made more incendiary by the implications in a state that, like many others in the South, bears a painful legacy of anti-voting tactics aimed at the black population.
Kemp’s involvement in election procedures while a candidate has also drawn criticism. During a debate with Abrams, Kemp said that he would not recuse himself in other election-related issues either, such as if the race were close enough to trigger a recount.
The state attorney general’s office did not say whether it planned to appeal the ruling, with spokeswoman Katie Byrd declining to comment.