Earlier this week, Georgia’s Secretary of State and 2018 gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp announced the opening of an investigation into the Democratic Party for the alleged hacking of the state’s voter registration system. When asked about the accusations on CNN, Kemp’s Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams said, “This is a desperate attempt on the part of my opponent to distract people.” Kemp’s allegations not only remain unsupported, but also show an apparent effort to distract from the Republican party’s record of voter suppression.
Since 2017, Georgia has had an “exact match” law in regards to voting, which requires that the information on a person’s voter registration application needs to exactly match that on their social security card or driver’s license. Without this, a person’s application status becomes “pending” and they are expected to provide further identification before being able to vote. Since its implementation, the law has drawn criticism from those who accurately claim it would disproportionately harm minority voters. In fact, a recent report by the Associated Press found 50,000 voters whose applications were stuck in the “pending” status, nearly 70 percent of whom were black. Kemp, whose responsibilities also include voter registration in Georgia, has been well known to support the law in an obvious attempt to suppress the minority vote.
Moreover, there have been multiple instances in both Georgia and Texas of voting machine malfunctions, including switching or erasing people’s votes. Interestingly enough, these incidents have been shown to benefit the Republican party. Such occurrences have switched votes for Democratic candidates like Abrams to votes for Republican candidates like Kemp. While it has not been said whether these mistakes were due to hacking, the fact remains that they were made possible because of the use of paperless voting machines. As one of the five states that rely on such machines, Georgia has, at best, been complicit in a system that can make such errors that compromise the already questionable legitimacy of our democracy.
Interestingly, while there has been actual evidence of voting machine errors, Kemp has called such allegations false and has opted to ignore them. Yet, he is willing to open up an investigation into these hacking claims against the Democratic party without tangible proof. His selective outrage makes it all too clear that his focus is not on the truth, but rather on what can be done to maintain the Republican status quo.
While it is no secret that the promise of free and fair elections has conveniently excluded minorities, Kemp’s actions not only portray a gross abuse of power on his part, but they also further contribute to the Republican party’s – and this country’s – history of compromising so-called democratic elections through voter suppression.