Racial disparity in the process

More than 53,000 voter registration applications are sitting on hold with Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office. Most people on that list are black; many don’t know their registration is stalled.

Tuesday is Georgia’s deadline to register and be eligible to vote in the November General Election.

Kemp, who’s also the Republican candidate for governor, is in charge of elections and voter registration in Georgia.

His Democratic opponent, former state Rep. Stacey Abrams, and voting rights advocacy groups charge that Kemp is systematically using his office to suppress votes and tilt the election, and that his policies disproportionately affect black and minority voters.

Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams agree on a few public education issues, but they disagree on plenty of other issues that affect Georgia schools. Kemp and Abrams are vying to be Georgia’s next governor.

Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams (John Amis/Associated Press)

Kemp is one of those “Beware voter fraud!!” types. Voter fraud is not an issue (because it’s extremely rare); voter suppression is.

[Kemp’s] campaign spokesman Ryan Mahoney said in a statement that because of Kemp, “it has never been easier to vote in our state” and pointed to a new online voter registration system and a student engagement program implemented under his tenure.

“Kemp is fighting to protect the integrity of our elections and ensure that only legal citizens cast a ballot,” Mahoney said.

But that’s not a fight that needs to be fought.

An analysis of the records obtained by The Associated Press reveals racial disparity in the process. Georgia’s population is approximately 32 percent black, according to the U.S. Census, but the list of voter registrations on hold with Kemp’s office is nearly 70 percent black.

Kemp’s office blamed that disparity on the New Georgia Project, a voter registration group founded by Abrams in 2013.

Kemp accuses the organization of being sloppy in registering voters, and says they submitted inadequate forms for a batch of applicants that was predominantly black. His office has said the New Georgia Project used primarily paper forms and “did not adequately train canvassers to ensure legible, complete forms ….”

His office says “the law applies equally across all demographics,” but these numbers became skewed by “the higher usage of one method of registration among one particular demographic group.”

The one that has been systematically disenfranchised for the entire history of this infuriatingly hypocritical country.

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