Former President Jimmy Carter is asking that Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp step down from the position before a statewide election in Georgia on Nov. 6.
That day is now said to be one of the most important in memory with races that will select new governors, members of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House to be decided.
Kemp is running one of the most closely watched races in the country against former Georgia House Majority Leader Stacey Abrams to be governor of Georgia. Many have pointed out the conflict of interest of Kemp presiding over the state’s election laws as he runs for governor.
“Former President Jimmy Carter has observed elections all over the world. Today he called on Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp to recuse himself from overseeing the gubernatorial election in which Kemp is a candidate,” tweeted attorney Sherrilyn Ifill on Oct. 29 after the former president spoke out. Ifill is president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Carter, 94, who was born in Plains, Georgia, has been active internationally regarding elections and voting. He has also monitored domestic elections.
The conflict of interest regarding Kemp’s role as Georgia’s Secretary of State and as statewide candidate entered a new phase after it was discovered that Kemp was silent on the “exact match” law in Georgia.
In early October, a coalition of civil and voting rights groups took action to sue Kemp in an effort to block the enforcement of “exact match.” The “exact match” requirement alone was reported to impact 50,000 voters, mostly African American. Georgia’s population is 28 percent African American. Abrams’ campaign has focused heavily on registration and turnout.
Carter made his request for Kemp to step down as secretary of state known in a letter to Kemp.
“I have officially observed scores of doubtful elections in many countries, and one of the key requirements for a fair and trusted process is that there be nonbiased supervision of the electoral process,” the first sentence of the letter to Kemp informed.
“In order to foster voter confidence in the upcoming election, which will be especially important if the race ends up very close, I urge you to step aside and hand over to a neutral authority the responsibility of overseeing the governor’s election. This would not address every concern, but it would be a sign that you recognize the importance of this key democratic principle and want to ensure the confidence of our citizens in the outcome,” Carter concluded.
During his career, Kemp has been a proponent of Voter ID laws and voter purges. Republicans across the country have pushed policies that have made it more difficult to vote in several states in the U.S. The policies have included closing polling places, disenfranchising ex-felons and blocking voter registration.
Election Day is on Nov. 6.
Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist and writer for NNPA as well as a political analyst and communications strategist. She appears regularly on “Roland Martin Unfiltered” and can be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on Twitter @LVBurke.