The campaign of Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate in Georgia’s gubernatorial race, reportedly urged her opponent, Brian Kemp, to resign as Georgia secretary of state on Thursday following a report that his office had frozen more than 53,000 voter registrations, many of them belonging to African-Americans.
“As he has done for years, Brian Kemp is maliciously wielding the power of his office to suppress the vote for political gain and silence the voices of thousands of eligible voters ― the majority of them people of color,” Abrams spokeswoman Abigail Collazo told CNN in a statement, adding that Kemp should step down “so that Georgia voters can have confidence that their Secretary of State competently and impartially oversee this election.”
A spokesperson for Abrams did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment. While Abrams herself has not issued a statement, she tweeted Wednesday that “Kemp has called us out. Let’s vote & let’s get it done!”
Kemp, who has served as Georgia secretary of state since 2010, ignored a request from Georgia activist groups to resign earlier this year.
The Associated Press on Wednesday first reported that tens of thousands of voter registrations had been put on hold because they failed a controversial state policy that requires an “exact match” between identification documents and registration forms. A small error, including typos or a missing hyphen, can result in an application freeze, and the registrants are added to a “suspense list.”
While Georgia’s population is 32 percent black, 70 percent of the holds had been placed on black voters’ registrations, the AP said.
According to Kemp, the 53,000 people whose voter registrations have been frozen will still be able to vote in November’s midterm elections. He says affected individuals with an acceptable form of ID can address whatever issues there are with their registrations at election sites next month, or else, they can cast provisional ballots.
Georgia’s deadline to register to vote was on Tuesday.
“The fact is that it has never been easier to register to vote and get engaged in the electoral process in Georgia, and we are incredibly proud to report this new record,” Kemp said in a statement to CNN.
Kemp, who is running as the Republican nominee for governor, oversees the state’s voter rolls and has systematically canceled more than 1.4 million registrations since 2012, according to the AP, including more than 670,000 last year.
Kemp has vehemently denied purging the voter rolls of people of color, saying the state’s policy amounts to routine roll maintenance. He also accused Abrams of manufacturing “outrage off a ‘problem’ she created.”
“She uses fear to fundraise and liberal billionaires continue to bankroll her corrupt enterprise,” he tweeted, calling his opponent “incredibly dishonest.”
Abrams is the first African-American women to be nominated by a major political party to run for state governor. Polls show the two candidates in a fiercely competitive race to replace Republican Nathan Deal.