Georgia GOP gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp recorded fretting about Democratic voter turnout

Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp hold Georgia gubernatorial debate
(Image credit: Screenshot/YouTube/AP)

Georgia gubernatorial candidates Stacey Abrams, the Democrat, and Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp faced off in the first of two debates Tuesday night, and the issue of voting rights dominated the discourse. Kemp, who is overseeing the election, is under fire for putting at least 53,000 voter applications on hold, 70 percent of them for black voters, plus purging voter rolls and enacting other policies that critics say are aimed at suppressing minority turnout to sink Abrams' bid to be America's first black woman governor. The polls currently show a statistical tie.

"Under Secretary Kemp, more people have lost the right to vote in the state of Georgia," Abrams said. "They've been purged, they've been suppressed, and they've been scared. ... Voter suppression isn't only about blocking the vote. It's also about creating an atmosphere of fear, making people worry that their votes won't count." Kemp called the idea he is suppressing voters "totally untrue."

Earlier Tuesday, however, Rolling Stone published audio recorded at a ticketed campaign event last Friday suggesting Kemp is at least concerned about Abrams voters turning out en masse. Her campaign's extensive get-out-the-vote campaign, including the "unprecedented number" of absentee ballots requested, Kemp said, "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."

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Also on Tuesday, FOX 5 Atlanta reported that Kemp's real estate investment companies still owe $800,000 of about $2 million they borrowed from a bank Kemp helped found, First Madison Bank, in 2007 and 2008 during the financial meltdown. Kemp, who sits on the board of the bank, and his campaign would not disclose the terms of the insider loans or explain why they hadn't been paid back yet. You can read more about the loans, and the federal laws governing such insider lending, at FOX 5.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.

Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.