"This tells you everything you need to know about Republicans' views on voting rights."
"The idea that he, as Secretary of State, would be 'concerned' that hardworking Georgians are exercising their right to vote is disgraceful and outrageous."
—Abigail Collazo, Abrams campaign
That's how the women's rights group UltraViolet responded on Tuesday to leaked audio of Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp—currently under fire for spearheading voter suppression efforts as he also runs for governor of the state—saying that the get-out-the-vote operation of his Democratic challenger "continues to concern us, especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote."
In the 21-minute recording of Kemp's remarks at a closed-door campaign event in Atlanta on Friday, obtained by Rolling Stone, he expressed concerns about Stacey Abrams's voter turnout mobilization, which has ramped up in response to Kemp suspending more than 53,000 voting registrations—mostly of black voters—and purging 107,000 more from the rolls.
Suggesting that Abrams is especially focused on absentee ballot requests, Kemp said, "They have just an unprecedented number of that... 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."
Asked to comment on his remarks, Abigail Collazo, director of strategic communications for the Abrams campaign, told Rolling Stone: "Brian Kemp is barely trying to hide the shameful fact that his strategy is to win through voter suppression."
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"The idea that he, as Secretary of State, would be 'concerned' that hardworking Georgians are exercising their right to vote is disgraceful and outrageous," she said. "Brian Kemp should resign immediately so that Georgians can be sure the election will be administered in an impartial and competent manner."
Rolling Stone's reporting sparked immediate outrage and fueled sharp critiques of Kemp's contributions to nationwide efforts by Republican officials to impose measures that make it harder to vote and which often disproportionately impact people of color and those with lower incomes.
"These remarks from any candidate for office would be appalling, but for them to come from a Secretary of State who oversees voting is especially disturbing," said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Chad Griffin. "[Kemp] has no place serving as Secretary of State, Governor, or in any public office."
In Georgia, the Republican nominee for governor is expressing concern that enormous numbers of people are turning out to vote.
People making their voices heard is what democracy in this country is all about — we should not be making it harder to vote. https://t.co/QY9deQeFFN
— Our Revolution (@OurRevolution) October 23, 2018
"People making their voices heard is what democracy in this country is all about—we should not be making it harder to vote," tweeted Our Revolution.