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Kemp: I kept promises in office

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- Technically Brian Kemp would be, in most ordinary circumstances, considered the interim secretary of state.

But these aren't ordinary circumstances.

Appointed by Gov. Sonny Perdue to fill the unexpired term of Karen Handel, who resigned to run for governor, Kemp now finds himself both the secretary of state and a candidate for secretary of state.

Running against Democrat Georgeanna Sinkfield and Libertarian David Chastain for the post, Kemp admits it's a bit of an odd position to be in, even an advantage given the fact that for the last nine months he's been able to have a crack at the job -- a privilege most candidates don't get to enjoy.

But when asked about it in an interview with The Albany Herald Monday, the Republican said the interim period has allowed him to do something else that is rare in modern politics: follow through on what he's promised.

"If you go down my list of priorities on my campaign site and you check that with the press releases on the secretary of state site, you'll see a correlation there. I'm proud of that," Kemp said.

While Kemp worked hard during the interview to flip the switch between campaign mode and official business mode at the appropriate times, the two merge at what has traditionally been one of the most well-known and revered authorities bestowed upon his office: ensuring safe and secure elections.

Secretary Kemp said that while turnout for the primaries and the early voting period for the November general elections has been brisk -- 210,000 votes have been cast in Georgia during the first three weeks of early voting -- it's far from the 2.2 million cast in the 2008 general election when a charismatic Barack Obama was pushing toward the White House.

Flip the switch.

Candidate Kemp chimes right in, saying that the implementation of new technology -- one of his campaign promises -- is already speeding up the voting process through the use of scanners used to swipe the back of a voter's driver's license and pull up their information, which he says is faster, safer and less prone to mistakes.

Additionally, the creation of an e-ballot for use by Georgia residents who are stationed overseas in the military is speeding up the time in which they have an opportunity to vote by eliminating transcontinental postage.

"It's pretty simple for me," Kemp said. "I have an obligation as secretary of state to ensure that we have a safe, secure and legitimate voting process. I have the desire as a candidate to make it better."

Secretary Kemp said he's looking forward to formally dismissing the state's suit against the Justice Department, which repeatedly blocked Georgia's system of verifying identification, but precleared the program earlier this year, saying that he sees nothing wrong with maintaining the integrity of the system by checking identification.

Candidate Kemp said that work needs to continue to advance along that path -- as suggested by a recent Senate bill -- by checking a person's immigration status before he or she is allowed to register to vote. Current Georgia law allows for a person to register before the state checks their immigration status.