In a vacuum, this quote isn’t that bad. It’s fairly normal for politicians to (privately) lament their opponent turning out people to vote (progressive challenger to Andrew Cuomo’s New York Democratic Governorship bid, Cynthia Nixon, even publicly blamed her loss partially on high turnout), and this quote echoes familiar complaints. The problem is, Brian Kemp, Georgia’s Republican candidate for governor, isn’t operating in a vacuum.
The context you need to know before you hear the full quote is that Kemp is currently disenfranchising an incredibly significant chunk of the Georgia electorate. He is also Georgia’s Secretary of State, so he is quite literally overseeing the election for his own governor’s race. Kemp and Georgia Republicans concocted an “exact-match” law where anyone’s name on their government-issued IDs must precisely match their names as listed on the voter rolls, and Ted Enamorado of The Washington Post found that as many as 30% of voters in America’s 8th largest state could be ineligible to vote under this law (totaling almost a million people). Now that you have that fact at the forefront of your brain, we can get to the leaked audio. Per Rolling Stone:
Brian Kemp, Georgia Secretary of State and the Republican nominee for Georgia governor, expressed at a ticketed campaign event that his Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams’ voter turnout operation “continues to concern us, especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote,” according to audio obtained by Rolling Stone.
Not long after Kemp began his remarks, the candidate expressed worry about early voting and “the literally tens of millions of dollars that they [the Abrams camp] are putting behind the get-out-the-vote effort to their base.”
Kemp then asserted that much of that Abrams effort is focused on absentee ballot requests. “They have just an unprecedented number of that,” he said, “which is something that continues to concern us, especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote — which they absolutely can — and mail those ballots in, we gotta have heavy turnout to offset that.”
American democracy is disappearing before our very eyes.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.