When the stakes are high, the temptation is always there to bend the rules to give your own side an advantage. Civil rights groups argue that Georgia GOP Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is running for governor, is doing just that.
Kemp, who oversees the state’s election process, faces legal accusations of voter suppression — particularly among minorities — as he battles Democrat Stacey Abrams, who would be the nation’s first black woman to be governor.
Kemp denies any wrongdoing, but the controversy echoes questions raised about whether secretaries of state who oversee elections have irreconcilable conflicts as candidates.
“It is a problem that we have partisan-elected secretaries of state as the chief election officers,” says Rick Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California, Irvine. “It creates an inevitable conflict of interest when the person’s allegiance is partly to their own political party. But the problem is of a different magnitude when the elected official is supervising an election where the secretary himself or herself is on the ballot.”