Unfounded conspiracy theories about the presidential election in Georgia hound Republican Gov. Brian Kemp even as he works to get the word out about Georgia’s new COVID-19 vaccination plan.
Following a COVID-19 update Tuesday inside the Capitol, Kemp was approached by a group of demonstrators with two large bags they said contained more than 2,000 letters urging Kemp to call a special session of the state Legislature to investigate claimed election irregularities and potentially change the results of Georgia’s election won by President-elect Joe Biden.
Kemp took the bags and told the group he would continue to look into the issue, but said his hands are tied by state law.
“I called for a signature audit three different times, that’s something the constitution gives to the secretary (of state), no special session is going to fix that,” he said.
As the press conference streamed on Facebook earlier, most commenters were insistent on pushing the governor to call a special session and not very interested in the rollout of a vaccine with potential to help people avoid the coronavirus.
Members of the crowd at the Capitol told Kemp Republican U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have argued he does have that authority.
“I know what they’re saying, but you need to remind them, like I have, that we always want to follow the laws and the Constitution, and that’s what I’m doing. We have a Constitution that gives that authority to the secretary of state, whether they like it or not. It may not be that way in Texas, it may not be that way in South Carolina, but it is in Georgia. But I promise you I’m working on this issue. I wish they would do the signature audit.”
Gayle Troyer of Forsyth County is a member of the group. She said she respects Kemp, but she was not convinced by his words. She referenced John Eastman, a California law professor called upon by Rudy Giuliani to testify at a state Senate hearing last week. Eastman argued that the state Legislature has the power to overturn the election and give Georgia’s 16 electoral votes to President Donald Trump, a claim other legal scholars dismiss.
“He said differently,” Troyer said. “I am not a scholar, but I have seen the evidence, I was here, and I’ve seen all the problems that took place. And it’s a big deal. And I just think, why not bring the Legislature in, let them make that decision? Quit putting it on the SoS, that won’t do anything. Let our legislators, they are supposed to be under us. We’re asking them to do that.”
During the press conference, a reporter with the Epoch Times, a far-right media group, asked Kemp about holding a special session and to weigh in on baseless claims from Trump lawyer L. Lin Wood that Kemp has ties to the Chinese Communist Party.
“Let everyone remember that Lin Wood was also telling people not to go vote for Sen. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler,” Kemp said. “I will assure you, myself and my family will not only be voting for them, we’re going to vote for him early and take our name off the list. I would encourage all other Republicans and people that want to save this great country to do the same. It’s outrageous that someone like that will even say that in the same breath that he’s trying to help the cause of being a red wall to socialism.”
If recent crowded GOP rallies are any indication, there are plenty of Republicans like Kemp who are excited to vote for Loeffler and Perdue. But others who buy into the conspiracies plan to stay home on Election Day, Troyer said.
“I’ve been to a lot of different functions, and people are outraged, they truly are outraged, and many are saying they’re not going to vote because they don’t feel like their vote is going to count.”