Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams accused her Republican opponent of voter suppression Sunday in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” and said such efforts amounted to a fear tactic against the state’s voters.
“The miasma of fear that is created through voter suppression is as much about terrifying people about trying to vote as it is about actually blocking their ability to do so,” Abrams said Sunday.
Abrams made her comments as her opponent, Republican Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, has come under fire about his oversight of the state’s election system, heightening tensions in an already tight race to replace GOP Gov. Nathan Deal.
Abrams called for Kemp to step down as secretary of state following a report that said Georgia put a hold on more than 53,000 voter registration applications – nearly seven-in-10 of them belonging to African Americans – because they failed to clear the state’s “exact match” standard.
Under the policy, even the most minor discrepancy between a voter’s registration and their driver’s license, social security or state ID cards – such as a typo or missing letter – can be flagged.
Kemp said in a tweet that Abrams was ginning up “outrage” and that the 53,000 Georgians could vote this November.
In her interview Sunday, Abrams said the reality for those 53,000 voters appeared less certain and that Kemp was “eroding public trust in the system.” The former Democratic leader of the state House of Representatives also noted the disproportionate share of voters affected were people of color or women.
“When you know that what you are doing is going to have a disproportionate effect on people of color and on women and you do it anyway, that erodes the public trust in the system and that’s problematic,” Abrams said.
Kemp’s office used the system previously, but paused following a lawsuit, at which point the state legislature passed a law restoring the “exact match” system. Amid the current controversy, a coalition of civil rights groups filed a lawsuit challenging the system again.
CNN’s Gregory Krieg contributed to this report.