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To: Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp
Georgia Clergy to Secretary Kemp: Confirm Our Votes and Recuse Yourself
We are pastors, priests, rabbis, imams and spiritual leaders who call the state of Georgia home and who stand in solidarity today to decry attacks on democracy and the shrinkage of the voting electorate by you and the office you oversee. In addition to our voices, clergy from around the country also join us in this stand.
We the undersigned clergy and faith leaders representing congregations and communities across Georgia are compelled to demand the following:
First, confirm the registration of the 53,000 voter registrations you are currently holding hostage. To do otherwise at this point constitutes a conscious decision to continue voter suppression and abdicate your responsibility as Board of Elections Chair.
Second, recuse yourself from your position as Board of Elections Chair, as a matter of ethics. It is an egregious conflict of interest for a candidate for office with an explicit interest in a particular outcome of the election to also be the person charged with ensuring a fair and equitable election.
Why is this important?
As people of faith and leaders of congregations, we can recount story after story of God acting in human history, often to counteract abuses by governing powers and always to reinforce the sacred voices of the poor, disabled, and disenfranchised.
Today we are compelled by our faith and these holy stories to stand in righteous opposition to the systematic disenfranchisement of African-American voters, who represent no less than 70% of the 53,000 voter registrations you are currently holding hostage. These actions are the latest in a documented pattern of attempts by elected officials to suppress the voting power of people of color and economically poor communities. By suppressing these votes, you abuse the power that the voters of Georgia entrusted to you when you were elected and sworn in as secretary of state.
Despite the Supreme Court’s recent weakening of the Voting Rights Act, the ability to vote is not only a constitutionally-protected right for citizens of this nation, it is also a sacred act, one that is essential to building and sustaining a righteous and just nation for all people. Any action that erects barriers to the ability of citizens of this nation to participate in our democratic processes is an injustice that offends the people of God. The ideals of democracy require that elections be fair and the process just, not riddled with obstacles reminiscent of the racist and sexist poll taxes and literacy tests of yesteryear.
The supposed legality of your actions that does not make them fair or just. Scripture says: “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people” (Isaiah 10).