Former President Jimmy Carter sent a letter to Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp urging him to resign from his current position as Georgia secretary of state. Carter argued that because the secretary of state’s job is to oversee the election, it doesn’t make ethical sense for Kemp to keep that position when he has a major stake in the results.
The letter was sent to Kemp on Oct. 22, but the Associated Press obtained a copy on Monday.
“I have officially observed scores of doubtful elections in many countries,” Carter began his letter to Kemp, “and one of the key requirements for a fair and trusted process is that there be nonbiased supervision of the electoral process.”
Carter is a Georgia native and was governor of the state himself from 1971 to 1975. He brought up that Georgia’s voting process has been questioned both on security and racial bias and voter suppression.
“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,” Carter continued.
Kemp has been accused of putting tens of thousands of voter registrations on hold, most of which are from African Americans. Kemp’s opponent, Democrat Stacey Abrams, would become the United States’ first-ever African American female governor if elected. The GOP candidate also defended the use of voting machines, which critics say are vulnerable to hacking.
Carter said that Kemp’s roll in overseeing the concerns is a conflict of interest:
“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.”
The former president argued that Kemp needs to step down from his position as secretary of state to assure that the election remains neutral:
“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.”
Kemp has not publically responded to Carter’s letter and has made no mention of intent to step down from his current position of Georgia secretary of state in the next week before the election.