Voters file emergency lawsuit to stop Georgia governor candidate Brian Kemp from overseeing election

Five voters on Tuesday filed an emergency lawsuit to stop Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp from overseeing the election for governor in which he is the Republican candidate.

The lawsuit, prepared by the watchdog group Protect Democracy, alleges that Kemp “has used the official powers of his office to interfere in the election to benefit himself and his political party and disadvantage his opponents.”

“In doing so,” the lawsuit says, “he has violated the Constitutional rights of Plaintiffs and other Georgia voters.”

Kemp is battling Democrat Stacey Abrams in a tight race that remains within striking distance for both candidates. The state official has come under increasing scrutiny in recent days over actions he has taken while presiding over the election process. His campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

The complaint, filed with U.S. District Court in Atlanta, cites a Sunday notice posted by his office to the official Secretary of State website that said the Democratic Party was under investigation for “possible cyber crimes” linked to an attempted hacking of the state’s voter registration system.

No evidence has been presented that would implicate Democrats in a hacking. Kemp has said the move was “how we would handle any investigation when something like this comes up.” The site that contained the notice is the same one that voters turn to for information about voting.

Kemp has also been criticized for implementing restrictive voter regulations.

Late last month, a federal judge ordered Kemp to instruct election officials to stop discarding absentee ballots that contained signature discrepancies, a procedure that critics including Abrams alleged was meant to suppress minority turnout.

And on Friday, a judge ruled against the “exact match” policy that Kemp had implemented. An investigation from the Associated Press found that the process put 53,000 voter registrations on hold. More than two thirds of those registrations were for African Americans, the AP found.

“Allowing one of the candidates to not just preside over their own election but misuse their office to give them an unfair advantage is just anti-democratic and unlawful,” Bryan Sells, a former Justice Department attorney who is co-counsel on the case, said in a statement.

The plaintiffs in the case demanded a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction. They also called for the court to award them attorneys’ fees.

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