Democracy Now:
Palast Sues Georgia’s Brian Kemp for Purging 340,000 Voters

Greg Palast for Democracy Now!

Our investigation has found Georgia secretary of state and Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp has overseen the removal of more than 340,000 current Georgia residents from voting rolls.

This report and interview was first broadcast on October 24, 2018 by Democracy Now
Learn more about our lawsuit.

Amy Goodman and Juan González interview Greg Palast
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: As we continue to look at voter suppression in Georgia, a new investigation has found that the Georgia secretary of state and Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp has overseen the removal of more than 340,000 current Georgia residents from voting rolls.

In a moment, we will be joined by journalist Greg Palast. But first, I want to turn to part of a new video he produced about the voter purge in Georgia.

[film] GREG PALAST: How did Kemp wipe out the registrations of 550,000 voters? He used the postcard trick. Kemp sent out millions of these cards, requiring voters to confirm their addresses. Problem? They look like junk mail. Eight out of 10 voters who get them throw them away. Throw away the card, and Kemp can throw you off the rolls. The trick? Not everyone gets a postcard. Mostly, they go to neighborhoods like this.

STACEY HOPKINS: This is my neighborhood. And this is where I almost got purged.

GREG PALAST: Stacey Hopkins is a community organizer.

STACEY HOPKINS: Give me a hug. Give me a hug, baby.
This is also a community that’s rapidly changing. It impacts us as a voting community. With all these empty houses, our vote is being lost. Our political power is being lost.

GREG PALAST: When Kemp sent her a postcard, he picked the wrong target.

STACEY HOPKINS: I look at these mailers that are telling me and two of my children that if we did not fill out these forms and return them, we were going to be moved to the inactive list. But we had just voted. I decided to try and hold Mr. Kemp accountable for that, because I wanted to know why he didn’t want me to vote. We filed suit against Secretary of State Kemp.

GREG PALAST: And she won-bigtime.

STACEY HOPKINS: A hundred and fifty-nine thousand were restored to the voting rolls. And that was-that was a good feeling.

GREG PALAST: But what feels bad is that more than half a million voters remain on the purge list. We had to threaten Kemp with a federal lawsuit, but he finally gave up the names of every voter he purged. Then we made all the names public. I was flooded with 1,900 emails from Georgians stunned they had lost their right to vote.

AMY GOODMAN: Investigative journalist Greg Palast attempted to question Georgia Secretary of State-the Republican gubernatorial candidate-Brian Kemp about the purge.

[film] GREG PALAST: Mr. Kemp, are you removing black voters from the voter rolls just so you can win this election? Why are you purging voters from the voter rolls? Sir, why aren’t you answering my questions? Sir, why do we have to sue you to get the names of voters who have been removed? Why are you-let go of me right now, sir. Is there any other reporter being thrown out of here?

KEMP HANDLER: No, sir. He said youspecifically.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s Greg Palast questioning the Republican candidate for governor Brian Kemp, who’s the Secretary of State.

Greg Palast, the journalist who’s been investigating Kemp and voter suppression in Georgia, director of the 2016 documentary, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.

AMY GOODMAN: You are suing Brian Kemp, as well, Greg Palast.  Explain what you found and why you’re suing him.

GREG PALAST: Well, you see, he wouldn’t answer my questions, so he’s going to have to answer them in a federal court.
This is a follow-up to my Rolling Stone 2016 investigation.

We are suing him-and I say “we,” including civil rights organizations-to find out why he’s removed 340,134 Georgians on supposed evidence that they’ve left the state or left their county. And they are still in their homeregistration addresses.They haven’t left.
You’re talking a third of a million people! If these people show up to vote on November 6th, they’re going to find that they can’t vote. They’ll be handed a provisional ballot, but it won’t be counted. This is huge.

And these lists are violently racially prejudiced. So, we are going into court to get all the answers, why Kemp did this. We know it’s wrong.

And from my other investigations, I was able to get inside his operation and get some of the purge lists before. It’s quite an ugly operation. I’ve never seen a purge operation this wide, this big.

And this one thing that Stacey Abrams was mentioning during the debate: It’s not just the 53,000 names pending, it’s the 340,000 people purged. That is, their registrations have been canceled.

That’s why we’re in court with the voting rights groups to get the information on exactly why these people were wrongly removed.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Greg, you are a veteran of this issue of voter suppression in various national elections. Back to Katherine Harris in Florida during the infamous Florida recount vote and the purging of supposed felons from the Florida voting lists. Kenneth Blackwell, another Republican secretary of state, in Ohio, during the 2004 election. We’ve heard about Kris Kobach in Kansas, and now Kemp in Georgia.

This secretary of state position rarely gets a lot of attention. But when it comes to election time, it’s a key position, isn’t it?

GREG PALAST: That’s one thing that’s not very well understood. It’s very, very dangerous for Brian Kemp to be in charge of the vote while he’s running for governor. For example, Kris Kobach, also Secretary of State [of Kansas] is closing and moving polling stations where voters of color can’t get to those stations. Kemp is doing the same thing, by the way. He has closed stations in
neighborhoods of voters of color, in Atlanta, for example, in the 6th Georgia Congressional District.

When people go to the polling stations and find they’ve been purged, and they fill out those provisional ballots, it will be Brian Kemp who decides whether they get counted!

Absentee ballots-you just heard how panicked he was about the massive number of absentee ballots coming in from voters of colorm from Democrats–he’s going to be able to decide which of those ballots get counted.

People don’t realize: you mail in your ballot, you’re taking a chance. They have to decide that your signature is correct. In Georgia, Kemp has imposed a rule called “exact match.” You add your middle initial and you didn’t register that way, or you leave it out and you did register that way, your ballot is toast. It’s gone.

This is very serious, to let a Secretary of State, the ballot counter, the guy who determines who gets to vote, which ballots get counted, where the vote takes place, how it takes place-Secretary of State Kemp is not following the normal procedure, that a Secretary of State should resign while they’re running for Governor


 

 

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