Republican candidate and Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp won the 2018 gubernatorial race against Democrat candidate and minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives Stacey Abrams.
Throughout the election, the two candidates stayed close in the polls. In the end, Kemp received 50.2 percent of the votes, while Abrams received 48.8 percent. Because of the close election, it was very important for the candidates to plan strategically and find the best way to reach as many people as possible.
Since Kemp was in charge of the managing the state elections, many people believe that he was using his position to win. Kemp has been accused of using voter suppression as a tactic to win the elections.
Voter suppression is a tactic used by partisan political powers to either dissuade or outright obstruct people from casting ballots.
The voter purge is one of the major forms of voter suppression wherein registered voters are removed from the voting list and unable to cast a vote. In July 2017, Kemp oversaw the removal of 8 percent of Georgia’s registered voters.
Voting purges occur often for various reasons, including death or being sent to prison. This purge is notable because of how many people were removed, who it affected and the reason they were removed.
The main reason that many voters were purged is they did not vote in the previous election. Kemp used his position to adopt a “use it or lose it” policy, which means that if people did not vote in the last election, they were purged from the system.
So, for an estimated 107,000 people, their removal from the voter rolls was triggered not because they moved or died or went to prison, but rather because they had decided not to vote in prior elections.
Another reason that caused many voters to be purged is inconsistency in government records.
Kemp’s office put 53,000 voter registrations on hold, nearly 70 percent of whom were African-American voters by enacting an “exact match” system. People were not allowed to vote if there were any discrepancies in their government records like a dropped hyphen.
In addition to voter purges, voter suppression was shown through technical issues and poll location issues.
Many voters reported that when they tried to vote for Abrams, the voting machine would select Kemp. Although Joseph Kirk, the Bartow County election supervisor, stated that he calibrated the voting machines prior to early election day, he admits that the machines are very old and that the voting machines needed to be calibrated again.
The voting poll locations were an issue in many minority neighborhoods because they were either closed down or the waiting time was extremely long. This led to voting locations having to extend their hours. And there were reports of many voting machines still in storage and not being used.
Voter suppression was shown in many ways throughout the United States during the midterm elections.