Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) is going on the offensive against critics of his office’s policy that blocked 53,000 Georgians—most of them black—from registering to vote.
Calls for him to resign over the policy are “ridiculous,” Kemp, who is locked in a close race for governor, said Friday.
Speaking to the Forsyth County News, the GOP nominee for governor called claims of mass voter suppression “fake news” and a “manufactured story from the Democrats.”
Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams argued last week that Kemp had to step down so that Georgians can “have confidence that their Secretary of State competently and impartially oversee this election.”
Abrams’ call was taken up by protesters and several state civil rights groups. The Georgia NAACP, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Groups, and other organizations filed a lawsuit against Kemp on Thursday, arguing that his office discriminated against minority residents.
Under the “exact match” policy, Georgia is allowed to delay or block voter registrations if information on the registration form does not align exactly with existing state records.
An Associated Press review of state records found that some 70 percent of the 53,000 people affected by the policy are black.
Kemp has insisted that affected voters can still cast ballots in person on Election Day, and attacked “outside agitators”—a term used by segregationists in the South—for stirring up controversy about his policy.
The Republican nominee is also trying to shift attention back across the aisle. On Friday, he claimed for the first time that the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor should withdraw from the race over allegations made in an April complaint against her family’s business.
Kemp said that the claims of racial discrimination at the Jack Cooper trucking firm are “unacceptable and disqualifying” for Sarah Riggs Amico, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
“It’s obvious the Georgia GOP wants to distract voters from this week’s national news headlines,” the Amico campaign said in a statement calling the lawsuit’s claims “completely without merit.”