Screenshot of ad.

PAC’s new ad takes aim at Kemp’s oversight of elections

The gloves are coming off in Georgia’s race for governor with a new elections-centered ad that challenges the trustworthiness of Republican Brian Kemp.

The ad is funded by PowerPAC Georgia, a Democratic-backed political action committee that’s supporting Stacey Abrams, the former minority leader in the Georgia House and Kemp’s opponent in the November general election.

The 30-second spot started airing in metro Atlanta on Saturday. It’s the PAC’s second attack ad against Kemp in as many weeks.

The plot

This new ad focuses exclusively on issues involving elections, which Kemp has overseen as Georgia’s secretary of state since 2010.

It specifically claims that “on Kemp’s watch”:

  • The names of 1.5 million Georgians have been purged from the voter rolls;
  • 214 polling places have been closed;
  • And the Social Security numbers and birth dates of 6 million Georgians were released to the press.

Lastly, it says Kemp has refused to replace the state’s “hackable voting system.”

The narrator says: “Does he hope to get himself elected by keeping us from voting? We just can’t trust that Brian Kemp.”

The context

Voter rolls: The ad cites an ABC news report from July on a study by the left-leaning Brennan Center for Justice showing Georgia purged 1.5 million from its voter roles between 2012 and 2016. The ABC report did not indicate how that compared with previous years.

We went to the Brennan Center’s full report, Page 4, for further information. The report said 750,000 more names were purged from Georgia’s voter rolls in the four-year period from 2012 to 2016 than from 2008 to 2012.

Closed polls: An Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis in late August showed 214 polling precincts – or nearly 8 percent — had closed across Georgia since 2012. A report on this analysis was the basis for this ad claim. In the newspaper’s report, local election officials said they were saving taxpayers’ money by consolidating precincts as a consequence of early voting. The AJC additionally reported that the state doesn’t monitor the closing of polling places and that officials at the Secretary of State’s Office said they weren’t aware of the number of closed polling places until contacted by the AJC about the analysis.

Data breach: The well-reported release of personal information, such as Social Security numbers and birthdays, of 6 million voters has been used by Democrats as fodder against Kemp since November 2015, when it first came to light. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle also used it in the GOP primary election to challenge Kemp’s competency. Kemp blamed the data breach on a clerical error, and he fired one employee.

Elections system: The ad identifies as its source several stories from the AJC and one from CNN. Most Georgia elected officials, including Kemp, agree that the state’s voting machines should be replaced, but not before the Nov. 6 general election. But election integrity advocates have said that Kemp has neglected basic security standards and avoided making substantial improvements before this year’s election. They say it remains unclear whether Georgia’s election system has been breached by foreign hackers or infected with malware.

The response

Cody Hall, Kemp’s campaign press secretary, issued a statement Sunday night, saying Abrams’ backers are “peddling lies” in a “ridiculous, baseless ad.”

“Stacey Abrams’ radical backers are spending millions to turn Georgia into the next California. Instead of telling the truth about Abrams’ extreme agenda, they are peddling lies about Brian Kemp’s strong record as Secretary of State.

Watch the ad

Related:  Kemp demands stations pull attack ads

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Kemp ad calls Abrams too extreme for Georgia

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PAC-financed ad hits Kemp over proposal to close voting precincts

Democrats aim again at Kemp over sex assault claims at massage clinic

Ad revives complaint against Kemp in handling of massage assault case

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