Secretary of State and Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp at the Wild Hog Supper earlier this month. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM
Photo: Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com
Photo: Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com

Kemp accuses Cagle of joining ‘liberal conspiracy theorists’ in push for paper ballots

This might be the most public rift yet between two statewide Republican candidates running for governor.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s decision to back a bill that calls for the state to scrap its 16-year-old touch-screen voting system and replace it with a paper-based system has triggered a sharp response from Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who oversees the state’s elections.

Cagle told WABE that a paper ballot trail “ensures that accuracy is there, and that there are no games that potentially could be played.”

Kemp’s campaign sent us a scathing response to Cagle’s idea, claiming he’s joined the ranks of “liberal conspiracy theorists” like Barack Obama and Stacey Abrams, a Democratic candidate for governor, with his support of the plan. 

“Is Casey Cagle that desperate for higher office that he would side with the radical left to tear down Georgia and our institutions?” said Kemp. “This decision needs to be made with input from legislators, county election officials, Georgia voters and the Secretary of State - not conspiracy theorists or misinformed, craven candidates for higher office." 

Cagle campaign manager Scott Binkley fired back at Kemp on Thursday. 

“The conservative Republican senators supporting this legislation would be surprised to hear they’re backing a leftist agenda when in reality they just don’t trust the current Secretary of State to run a competent election — and with good reason,” he said. “We’re looking to restore trust in our processes.” 

Supporters of the proposal say paper ballots, used by about 70 percent of the nation, are more secure than electronic machines because they can’t be hacked. 

Georgia’s 27,000 touch screens now leave no paper record of how people voted, making it impossible to audit elections for accuracy or to conduct verifiable recounts. 

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They call it the ‘Adios Amazon’ slate. And it’s the latest example of how the state’s bid for the tech giant’s second headquarters is coloring just about everything under the Gold Dome. 

A coalition of left-leaning groups is brandishing Amazon’s search for a new home for its $5 billion for its movement against a trio of measures it says could endanger Georgia’s bid for the tech giant’s second headquarters:

House Bill 66 would impose a new fee on money transmitted on out-of-state wire services that immigrants and refugees use to support families abroad.

Senate Bill 161 would require new drivers licenses for non-citizens of the U.S. 

And Senate Resolution 587 would require all government communication - including ballots - be conducted in English. 

The opponents, including the ACLU of Georgia and the Coalition of Refugee Service Agencies, have scheduled a press conference for Thursday morning to outline their angst. They contend passing the legislation would “remove Georgia’s welcome mat” for businesses and immigrants. 

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The ACLU of Georgia also sent out a warning shot to U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson and Congressmen John Lewis, D-Atlanta, and Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, on Wednesday for deleting comments from their official social media pages. 

The civil liberties group dinged the representatives for blocking individual users who left critical comments on their public Facebook accounts. It urged the officials to restore those users’ posting privileges. 

“As social media becomes more integral to the political process and public discourse, government officials must not engage in any form of viewpoint censorship in violation of the First Amendment,” the ACLU wrote in letters to each of the lawmakers. 

Spokespeople for Isakson and Loudermilk disputed the ACLU’s charge that they were censoring constituents. Isakson spokeswoman Amanda Maddox said the senator keeps his social media pages “family friendly” and does not tolerate profanity. But she also said the office reinstated the posting privileges of the two constituents whom the ACLU had highlighted in its letter. Loudermilk said his social media policy is posted prominently on his Facebook page and that the “only individuals who are ever blocked or have their comments hidden are those who violate the policies of the page.” 

Both offices said Wednesday they had not heard from the ACLU, which Loudermilk said showed the group was eager to score political points. 

“The fact that the media was informed of this complaint before my office has even received it indicates that the ACLU of Georgia is more interested in getting publicity than ensuring open and civil discourse,” Loudermilk said in a statement. 

The letters are part of a larger campaign by the ACLU to prevent politicians from blocking constituents. 

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More than a dozen Georgia mayors were on hand in the White House East Room yesterday as President Donald Trump talked infrastructure and the economy. Missing, however, was Atlanta’s top elected official. 

We wondered if Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, whom the White House initially billed as an attendee, was joining in on the boycott over sanctuary cities spearheaded by other big city Democratic mayors. But a Bottoms spokeswoman shot that down. The new mayor, she said, had a scheduling conflict

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Alyssa Milano is dipping her toe into Georgia politics for the second time in less than a year. The actress tweeted out a link to the campaign site of Cindy Zeldin, the Democratic health advocate running for Georgia’s open insurance commissioner seat, earlier this week. 


Milano also campaigned for Democratic 6th District congressional candidate Jon Ossoff last year and drove voters to the polls. 

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