ATLANTA (CN) — With over 6.8 million voters now registered, Georgia has shattered its all-time voter registration record.
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office announced Wednesday that he expects the total number of active and inactive registered voters to climb past 7 million “at any moment” as election officials continue to process mailed-in paper applications.
The news comes on the heels of an investigation by the Associated Press which revealed Tuesday that Kemp, who is currently in a tight race for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, has placed 53,000 registration applications on hold.
The AP investigation found that a majority of the flagged applications belong to black and minority voters. Although Georgia’s population is approximately 32 percent black, the registrations on hold with Kemp’s office are reportedly nearly 70 percent black.
The applications were flagged under the state’s “exact match” verification process which requires the information on voter applications to exactly match information on file with the Department of Driver Services or the Social Security Administration.
Something as simple as an entry error or a dropped hyphen in a last name could cause an application to be flagged.
Kemp’s office has cancelled over 1.4 million voter registrations since 2012 and canceled more than 668,000 registrations in 2017 alone.
Registrations may be canceled when inactive voters don’t have contact with election officials for several years, fail to update their address after moving, are convicted of a felony, are declared mentally incompetent, or die.
Kemp has denied accusations of voter suppression and has instead blamed the flagged applications on sloppy organizing, particularly on the part of the New Georgia Project, a voter registration group founded by Stacey Abrams in 2013. The New Georgia Project targets minority voters and launched a campaign to register voters in historic black churches in September.
Kemp’s office told the AP that the New Georgia Project failed to submit the proper forms for applicants and did not ensure that applicants filled out the forms legibly.
Ryan Mahoney, a campaign spokesman for Kemp, told the AP that because of Kemp, “it has never been easier to vote in our state.”
“Kemp is fighting to protect the integrity of our elections and ensure that only legal citizens cast a ballot,” Mahoney said.
In a statement Wednesday announcing the record-breaking registration numbers, Kemp again defended the integrity of the state’s electoral policies.
“Despite what you hear or read, the numbers are clear. While outside agitators disparage this office and falsely attack us, we have kept our heads down and remained focused on ensuring secure, accessible, and fair elections for all voters. The fact is that it has never been easier to register to vote and get engaged in the electoral process in Georgia, and we are incredibly proud to report this new record,” Kemp said.
Absentee voting by mail is currently underway in Georgia and voters will be able to vote early in person on October 15.
Already, the number of voters who have mailed in ballots is double the amount that were mailed in at the same point in the 2014 election.