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SPIGOLON: Kemp, Duncan go opposite ways on controversial voting law
Kemp and Duncan
Gov. Brian Kemp listens as Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan makes remarks during a budget bill signing ceremony in February at the State Capitol. (Special | Office of Gov. Brian Kemp)

It seems our two highest-ranking state officials are going in opposite directions in what they see as the effect of the recent controversial changes to the state’s voting law.

And while the governor believes it’s a good political strategy to argue in favor of the changes that prompted derision from major corporations and Major League Baseball, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan may take a different approach in 2022.

Duncan may take the highly unusual step of finishing his term without seeking reelection or running for any other office. 

Gov. Brian Kemp, meanwhile, was on the ropes in December as then-President Donald Trump criticized Kemp for not stepping in to negate the results of the 2020 election.

Now, Kemp apparently sees a way back and believes that loud and strong vocal objections to the “cancel culture” that he says corporations are involved in to oppose the law will be a winning strategy in a reelection bid against likely opponent Stacey Abrams in 2022.

But with Georgia so evenly divided now between Republicans and Democrats, are his loud objections a good way to govern all the people? 

Why did he think the state’s largest companies and the film industry wouldn’t object? Shouldn’t he have taken a more measured approach that could have prevented all these cancellations and corporate opposition that could cost Georgia millions in sales tax revenue in the process?

I think Duncan is considering all of that as he considers a possible move to give Republicans a chance to lead Georgia through the 2020s and beyond.

Few, if any, lieutenant governors in state history have finished their terms without running either for re-election to their current office or for governor or Congress since the office’s creation in 1945.

Of course, one thing that may be prompting Duncan’s decision is supporters of former President Trump who vow to back a 2022 primary challenger against the lieutenant governor.

Duncan took the radical step of breaking with other Republicans and openly opposing former President Donald Trump’s claims about a rigged election — claims that have been disproven over and over.

The lieutenant governor presides over the Senate and Duncan apparently didn’t appreciate the fact that some state senators sought to hear more than once from Trump’s personal attorney, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, about alleged vote-rigging as Trump attempted to convince the nation in December and January that Georgia’s vote was flawed.

Duncan, instead, continued to openly contradict Trump’s claims. This put him on the outs with many Republicans in Georgia who felt he should’ve joined in the chorus backing the boisterous ex-president no matter what the facts were. 

He also left other Republicans to make the changes to Georgia’s election laws that began with Trump’s false claims. 

Duncan even went so far as to refuse to preside over the state Senate last month as it debated limits on who can vote absentee by mail — which was not included in the legislation that became law.

Pundits now say Duncan may take on more of a role with a group he co-founded called GOP 2.0, which is trying to reshape the party so that it can possibly retake the two U.S. Senate seats it lost in the wake of Trump’s continued claims and the demographic shift the state has seen in recent years.

Conservatives in the Republican Party are vowing to back a primary challenger against Duncan, just as right-wing Newton County congressman Jody Hice prepared to challenge embattled Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger who dared to support his office’s handling of the legally completed 2020 election against Trump’s unsubstantiated objections.

Most recently, Duncan appeared on CNN and said parts of the law were “punitive,” or meant to punish Democrats for wins by Democrats Joe Biden for president and Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock for Georgia’s U.S. Senate seats.  

The Republican-dominated General Assembly approved the voting law along party lines March 25. Gov. Brian Kemp signed it quickly into law hours later — an unusual step considering he typically takes weeks to sign or veto other bills.

Among its changes are an expansion of weekend early voting opportunities, which Kemp and other supporters have said shows the law is not designed to limit access.

It also includes an overhaul to the absentee voting process and early voting, including requiring mail-in voters to give a driver’s license or some other form of ID as they would if voting in person — which is difficult to find fault with. 

But it also includes provisions sure to cut down on the number of absentee voters, who voted overwhelmingly for Democrats in 2020.

It cuts in half, from six months to three, the amount of time voters can request absentee ballots. 

In addition, new requirements, such as printing a date of birth or including partial Social Security numbers, could get their ballots thrown in the trash.

Tom Spigolon is news editor of The Covington News. He may be reached at