Jimmy Carter Wades Into Georgia Governor's Race
ATLANTA, FLA — October 31, 2018
Former President Jimmy Carter, who has spearheaded election monitoring in countries across the world for decades, has called on Brian Kemp—the Georgia Republican who is running for governor while also serving as Secretary of State—to resign from his post in order to ensure the integrity of the state's upcoming election, because, he believes, the whole scenario has presented a gross conflict of interest.
"In order to foster voter confidence in the upcoming election, which will be especially important if the race ends up very close," Carter’s letter to Kemp, published by the Associated Press on Monday, states. "I urge you to step aside and hand over to a neutral authority the responsibility of overseeing the governor’s election. This would not address every concern, but it would be a sign that you recognize the importance of this key democratic principle and want to ensure the confidence of our citizens in the outcome," the former head of state writes.
Kemp, who was recently caught on tape expressing worry over what would happen if too many people “exercise their right to vote,” has faced outrage after his office “suspended” 53,000 voter registrations, primarily of people of color, for trivial errors like missing a hyphen in their name. On his watch, counties are also silently throwing out hundreds of absentee ballots based on “signature mismatches,” a policy that is again disproportionately affecting black voters’ ballots — although a federal court just ruled ballots can no longer be rejected for this reason without giving voters notice. Making matters worse, a recent investigation found that at least 340,000 voter registrations were improperly canceled by Kemp after he wrongly claimed the voters had moved from their previous address.
Republicans have returned fire, with Kemp alleging that Abrams and her backers want to give ballots to immigrants who are in the country illegally—an attack featured in a Republican ad being broadcast statewide.
U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg in September cited "a mounting tide of evidence of the inadequacy and security risks" involved in Georgia's system. She agreed with voting integrity advocates who sued last year and argued that the touchscreen voting machines Georgia has used since 2002 are vulnerable to hacking and provide no way to confirm that votes have been recorded correctly because there's no paper trail.
But she sided with Kemp in denying the advocates' request to force the statewide use of paper ballots for the 2018 midterms. Kemp, who has been secretary of state since 2010, has recently joined calls to move to paper ballots but said it would have caused too much upheaval to make the change this year.
October 22, 2018
To Secretary of State Brian Kemp:
I have officially observed scores of doubtful elections in many countries, and one of the key requirements for a fair and trusted process is that there be nonbiased supervision of the electoral process.
In Georgia’s upcoming gubernatorial election, popular confidence is threatened not only by the undeniable racial discrimination of the past and the serious questions that the federal courts have raised about the security of Georgia’s voting machines, but also because you are now overseeing the election in which you are a candidate. This runs counter to the most fundamental principle of democratic elections — that the electoral process be managed by an independent and impartial election authority. Other secretaries of state have stepped down while running for election within their jurisdiction, to ensure that officials without a direct stake in the process can take charge and eliminate concerns about a conflict of interest.
In order to foster voter confidence in the upcoming election, which will be especially important if the race ends up very close, I urge you to step aside and hand over to a neutral authority the responsibility of overseeing the governor’s election. This would not address every concern, but it would be a sign that you recognize the importance of this key democratic principle and want to ensure the confidence of our citizens in the outcome.
The Honorable Brian F. Kemp
Secretary of State
214 State Capitol
Atlanta, Georgia 30334