Following intense scrutiny over his policy that blocked 53,000 Georgia residents from registering to vote, Georgia secretary of state and GOP candidate for governor Brian Kemp went after “outside agitators” in a Wednesday statement.
As Yahoo News’ Jon Ward points out, the term “outside agitators” has a racially tinged history and was used by segregationists in the South.
Though Kemp was perhaps referring to the national media and his gubernatorial opponent’s out-of-state supporters, he used a racially charged term to defend a policy viewed as an attempt to keep low-income and minority residents from voting.
“Despite what you hear or read, the numbers are clear. While outside agitators disparage this office and falsely attack us, we have kept our heads down and remained focused on ensuring secure, accessible, and fair elections for all voters,” Kemp said in the statement. “The fact is that it has never been easier to register to vote and get engaged in the electoral process in Georgia, and we are incredibly proud to report this new record.”
The statement touting the voter registration statistics came after records obtained by the Associated Press earlier this week revealed that a secretary of state’s office policy kept 53,000 people from registering to vote. The policy allows the state to delay or block the registrations of residents when information on their voter registration form does not match exactly with existing state records.
After this data point became public, civil rights groups filed a lawsuit against Kemp Thursday, arguing that the strict policy discriminates against minority residents.