Former president Jimmy Carter asks Brian Kemp to step down as secretary of state amid accusations of voter suppression

Stacey Abrams thegrio.com AP
FILE – In this Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018 file photo, Democratic gubernatorial candidate for Georgia Stacey Abrams, left, speaks as her Republican opponent Secretary of State Brian Kemp looks on during a debate in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, Pool, File)

 

Former President Jimmy Carter, a Georgia resident, wrote on his official letterhead to his state’s Republican nominee for governor, Brian Kemp, asking him to resign as Georgia secretary of state. The secretary of state oversees elections.

This is the full text of the letter, obtained by The Associated Press:

October 22, 2018

To Secretary of State Brian Kemp:

I have officially observed scores of doubtful elections in many countries, and one of the key requirements for a fair and trusted process is that there be nonbiased supervision of the electoral process.

In Georgia’s upcoming gubernatorial election, popular confidence is threatened not only by the undeniable racial discrimination of the past and the serious questions that the federal courts have raised about the security of Georgia’s voting machines, but also because you are now overseeing the election in which you are a candidate. This runs counter to the most fundamental principle of democratic elections — that the electoral process be managed by an independent and impartial election authority. Other secretaries of state have stepped down while running for election within their jurisdiction, to ensure that officials without a direct stake in the process can take charge and eliminate concerns about a conflict of interest.

In order to foster voter confidence in the upcoming election, which will be especially important if the race ends up very close, I urge you to step aside and hand over to a neutral authority the responsibility of overseeing the governor’s election. This would not address every concern, but it would be a sign that you recognize the importance of this key democratic principle and want to ensure the confidence of our citizens in the outcome.

Sincerely,

Jimmy Carter

The Honorable Brian F. Kemp
Secretary of State
214 State Capitol
Atlanta, Georgia 30334