ATLANTA — Georgia’s governor is lashing out against Major League Baseball after its announcement that it was moving the All-Star game out of Atlanta because of the state’s newly passed election law.
The new law makes ballot drop boxes an official part of Georgia election law and replaces signature matches on absentee ballots with a voter ID.
Critics, however, contend the new law is more about voter suppression than election integrity, especially the law preventing people from providing food and water to voters within 150 feet of polling places.
In an exclusive interview seen only on Channel 2 Action News at 6 p.m., Channel 2′s Jovita Moore spoke to Gov. Brian Kemp one-on-one about the move:
Jovita Moore: “Baseball Commissioner Robert Manfred said this is all about taking a stance against ballot box restrictions, referencing the newly passed voting legislation here in Georgia. What’s your reaction?
Gov. Brian Kemp: “My reaction is Major League Baseball has caved to the cancel culture and a bunch of liberal lies, quite honestly. He didn’t cite one specific part of the bill that he disagrees with. And it’s because Joe Biden and Stacey Abrams continue to lie about the Election Integrity Act that I just signed. And I believe for your viewers at home, you might as well get ready because now that they’re coming for your baseball game, they’re going to come after your business, they’re going to come after your way of life. But I’m going to tell you, I’m not backing down. This is a good bill that provides more access, especially on the weekends and many other things that I’ve been saying for days. And it’s really a sad day for hardworking Georgians, for baseball fans like myself, that Major League Baseball just caved to the pressure.”
Jovita: “Governor, you said “caved to the pressure.” But also during the last election cycle, you and many others said there was no fraud here. That there were no problems with the elections here in Georgia from November through the runoff, and then January. So if people feel like there was nothing wrong, then what needs to be changed? And so if they want to make changes, how is that caving to pressure?”
Gov. Brian Kemp: “Well I guess Major League Baseball doesn’t support us adding additional days for people to vote early is all I can say, Jovita. You’ve got an organization that’s headquartered in New York where you have to have an excuse to be able to vote by absentee ballot. In Georgia, you do not. In New York, they have 10 days of early voting, where people can vote early. In Georgia, you have 17. And now, if a county takes advantage of the two optional Sundays that was added in this bill, you’ll have 19 potential days that people can vote early. That’s nine days more than New York. Yet the commissioner is pulling the game from here, hurting our small business owners, because he simply doesn’t know what’s in the bill. The pressure from the White House, from the organization which Stacey Abrams runs, they’re up there lying, nobody will call them out. What the president said the other day, he got four Pinocchio’s from the Washington Post. You know, the mechanics from the election this year there was definitely problems. The Legislature, I think, did a great job of wading through those and making good changes that is going to help the county elections officials. Some of the things in the bill was recommended by the association of county commissioners of Georgia. The voter ID voter requirement we’ve had since 2006 in Georgia is going to speed up the absentee voting process by mail on the local level so the results can be reported quicker. All these people who are bowing to the cancel culture, none of them have cited one example of why you should be boycotting this game. I asked them that, they don’t mention that. It’s just the political pressure on them and it’s a good thing for you viewers to know that, that is coming to your house, that is coming to your neighborhood now. But I will tell you that I will continue to fight that because we are on the right side of this and the truth will set you free.”
Jovita Moore: “Right, so governor I understand everything you’re saying but also throughout the whole election cycle, so many people said there was no fraud here. There were no problems. So now when you sort of want to change everything...”
Gov. Brian Kemp: “Jovita, I would disagree with you on that there were no problems. When you have people who are trying to monitor the election where they are pushed away that can’t see that, that is a problem. The president brought up the whole thing about water the other day, which he is not factually correct, he is lying on. But the question is why are people standing in line so long that they would need food or water. Shouldn’t those voters be upset that they’re having to stand in line four-to-six hours. Well the General Assembly and I was. In this bill, we fixed that by mandating more equipment at the precincts. And if people have to wait for over an hour, it forces the county elections office the next election to do something about that so people aren’t out there long enough that there’s a need to do that. I mean it’s ridiculous for people to have to stand in line for six hours. That doesn’t happen all over the state. It happened in specific places. When counties are starting and stopping the counting of the vote, it brings doubt and confusion to the voter. And I’m not saying fraud, I’m just saying confidence in the process. And that is something else that the legislature dealt with in this bill.”
Jovita Moore: “Right. Certainly governor we’ve seen people stand in line for hours for elections before. And there were no drastic changes made after that. And it was like, ‘Ok, that’s how Election Day went. And so we’re going to move on to the next Election Day.’ But I think so many people...”
Gov. Brian Kemp: “I would disagree with you on that Jovita. You know, when I was Secretary of State, when counties would have long lines their election boards would meet and make sure that wouldn’t happen again or take instances where that is taken care of. But now the Legislature has gotten so tired of these perennial counties where these issues don’t happen, they did something about it this year. It has nothing to do ... You know there’s people that, you know, I’m sure think there was fraud in the election and other people that think it was just fine. You can be wherever you are on that, but it still doesn’t change the facts of this bill, makes the mechanics of the election better. It provides more access for weekend voting and it’s doing a lot of things that we’ve been doing in Georgia for a long time to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.”
Jovita Moore: “Governor, what would you say to those critics who say the changes are only being made because the people didn’t get the results that they wanted? So now they want to change all the rules of the game. I’m sure you’ve heard that criticism in the last few weeks.”
Gov. Brian Kemp: “Oh yeah, absolutely. But I would ask them, you know, what are the specific things that they don’t like about the bill? And I’ve been answering those kind of questions and talking to people ever since I finished signing it, and the legislature did that for four, five months when they were debating the bill. But I’ll also tell you that the people who voted for this bill, you know, they were duly elected on Nov. 3 as well. The Republican won one and kept strong majorities in the General Assembly in the Senate and the House, and they felt like this was important to do. And again, there’s provision in this bill Jovita, that the Democrats weighed in on, county elections officials were asking the Legislature to do. You know, you could look back in the past, there’s been election cleanup bills time and time again. If this bill hadn’t have passed, you wouldn’t have drop boxes right now. They’ve never been in the law before. It was only done because of an emergency power of the state election board had under the public health state of emergency. So if this bill hadn’t passed, we wouldn’t even be able to allow ... to have drop boxes. We’ve addressed that in a secure way and adding those to counties who did have them during 2020. Some counties didn’t have drop boxes.”
Jovita Moore: “And certainly this past election cycle was different in that we were all having to vote during a pandemic. So a lot of those changes were made for the safety of the public, thinking about the safety of our elderly and sick people who needed to get out to cast their ballots. So those changes were made under that umbrella. But certainly they were changes that many people thought were positive and effective, and now it looks like it’s being all changed back again.”
Gov. Brian Kemp: “Well I would disagree saying that everybody thought they were positive and effective. Some of the things that the General Assembly weighed in on, they obviously think that. I know that there’s a lot of people that didn’t think it was proper for ballot drop boxes to be out there. They were supposed to be secured or either have a camera on them, and you go back after the fact, and there were no cameras on them, they weren’t secured at certain times of the day and weren’t monitored. Which is concerning for a lot of people quite honestly. And that was something that was addressed. We didn’t take them away. Just securing the ballot drop boxes, which I think most people think is a smart thing to do.”
Jovita Moore: “OK, those comments came from ... there was county elections offices that said their ballot drop boxes were secured and that there were cameras on them. And then of course the Secretary of State’s office also co-signed that to say that that was in place. And so I think many voters expected that that was the case and that was happening.”
Gov. Brian Kemp: “I’m pretty sure that there has been people that have asked for those tapes, to see those cameras and they were not available because the cameras weren’t working or they were never put on the drop boxes in the first place. But that’s certainly something that we could document if we need to.”
Jovita Moore: “Governor Kemp, thank you so much for your time.”