WASHINGTON ― The chairman of House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Wednesday asked Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and the state’s top election official to turn over documents related to how the 2018 election was run in the state as the body investigates allegations of voter suppression.
Kemp was elected governor in November while serving as secretary of state. Critics, including Stacey Abrams, his Democratic opponent, called on Kemp to step down from that post while running for governor, saying he had a conflict of interest as both a candidate for office and the state’s top election official. Kemp also faced scrutiny for aggressively removing people from the voter rolls and overseeing a policy that put 53,000 voter registrations on hold in the state. Nearly 70 percent of the registrations on hold were from African-American voters. Georgia voters also faced long lines on Election Day, waiting in line for hours.
In a Wednesday letter to both Kemp and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the chairman of the committee, and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) asked for a wide range of documents pertaining to how Kemp dealt with those issues.
“The Committee on Oversight and Reform is investigating recent reports of serious problems with voter registration, voter access, and other matters affecting the ability of people in Georgia to exercise their right to vote,” they wrote in two letters. “The Committee is particularly concerned by reports that Georgians faced unprecedented challenges with registering to vote and significant barriers to casting their votes during your tenure as Secretary of State and during the 2018 election.”
Abrams has said Kemp won the election because of voter suppression. At a commemoration for the “Bloody Sunday” march in Selma, Alabama, last weekend, Hillary Clinton said Abrams would be the governor of Georgia were it not for voter suppression.
Georgia also faced scrutiny in 2018 as one of five states that used electronic voting machines with no paper record. Cummings and Raskin also asked Kemp and Raffensperger to turn over documents involving communications with election machine vendor ES&S as well as those related to drop-offs in voting rates in the 2018 election. An unusually high number of people did not show a recorded vote in the 2018 lieutenant governor’s race, prompting concerns about the integrity of the machines.
The committee also asked for documents related to a proposal to close polling places in Randolph County, Georgia, last summer. Local officials initially said they needed to close all but two of the polling locations in the county because they weren’t compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, but that rationale quickly fell apart. The county kept the polling locations open.
Lauren Groh-Wargo, Abrams’ former campaign manager and now CEO of a group Abrams founded focusing on improving elections, praised the committee’s probe.
“We are glad to see our leaders recognizing the magnitude of problems Georgians faced in 2018 due to the Secretary of State’s malfeasance, as well as the state’s continued refusal to guarantee the right to implement meaningful reforms in the 2019 legislative session,” Groh-Wargo, said in a statement.
“Georgia voters deserve real solutions, not Band-Aid bills that continue to promote long lines and malfunctioning machines in order to pad the pockets of Governor Kemp’s friends and allies.”
This article has been updated with a statement from Abrams’ former campaign manager.