Who Is?
S3 E13

Who Is Brian Kemp? Narrated by Tara Strong

Brian Kemp is running for Governor of Georgia and also controls who gets to vote for Governor of Georgia. In 2017 alone, his office canceled nearly 670,000 voter registrations. Now his office has more than 53,000 voter registrations on hold, nearly 70% of which belong to African Americans. Here’s how he got all that power.

Brian P. Kemp grew up in Georgia’s northeastern blue city of Athens. He attended Clarke Central High School where he played on the football and baseball teams before graduating in 1982. He then went on to the University of Georgia where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture and was a member of the Lambda Chi frat, graduating in 1987.

In 2002, Kemp was elected to the Georgia Senate where he served as chair of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee until 2006. After serving as a state senator, he was appointed secretary of state in 2010 by then Governor and current U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue.

Kemp was reelected in 2014. One of the main responsibilities of the secretary of state is overseeing the voter registration and election day process. And ever since he took over the office, he’s been making it difficult for minorities to cast ballots.

Mother Jones notes that in 2012, a small organization registered more than 1,400 new Asian American voters in Georgia. But roughly a month before the election, some of the newly registered voters hadn’t been sent their voter registration cards and others who tried to vote early were turned away.

In 2014, Kemp’s office mishandled 40,000 Georgians voting registrations, a majority of whom were people of color. The next year, in 2015, two Georgia residents filed a class action lawsuit against Kemp for sending CDs containing personal data from six million voters to twelve media organizations, political parties, and other groups. The CDs are normally sent out to these groups, but this batch of six million contained birth dates and social security and driver's license numbers.

In July 2017, a lawsuit was filed against the state in an effort to overturn the 6th District Special Election between Democrat Jon Ossoff and the Republican who won, Karen Handel. Brian Kemp was named in the lawsuit which was seeking a re-examination of Georgia’s vulnerable voting system.

According to the Kemp campaign website, among other talking points, he’s “putting Georgians first”. But he’s not actually putting all Georgians first. He’s still overseeing the election and voting process in an election in which he is a candidate. And he’s taking full advantage of his power.