Stacey Abrams Explains New Initiative To Fight Voter Suppression

Aug 27, 2019

With Kimberly Atkins

Former state lawmaker and Democratic gubernatorial candidate for Georgia Stacey Abrams announced last month she would not be running for president. Instead, she will focus on extending voter protection programs in the U.S. with her new program, Fair Fight 2020. We talk to her about voter suppression and 2020 politics.

Guest

Stacey Abrams, former lawmaker and Democratic gubernatorial candidate for Georgia. Founder of Fair Fight 2020, an initiative that aims to combat voter suppression. (@staceyabrams)

From The Reading List

The Guardian: “Stacey Abrams is fighting voter suppression – but how widespread is it?” — The former lawmaker Stacey Abrams – who energized Democrats in Georgia with her near-miss run for governor there – said this week that she would not enter the Democrats’ race to be the party’s 2020 presidential candidate.

“Instead she will be focussing on a new initiative aiming to protect voters in battleground states around the country, although she added she is open to being a running mate in a presidential bid.

“Abrams, who accused her ultimately successful Republican opponent Brian Kemp of voter suppression in Georgia’s gubernatorial race last year, launched the Fair Fight 2020 campaign, saying: ‘There are only two things stopping us in 2020: making sure people have a reason to vote and that they have the right to vote.’

“Andrew Gillum, a former gubernatorial candidate for the Democrats in Florida, similarly earlier this year launched a big voter mobilization campaign in the crucial state, Bring it Home Florida.

“But what is the size of the challenge to tackle voter suppression?”

Washington Post: “Democrats, citing GOP-imposed voting restrictions, aim to flip secretary of state offices in five states” — “The Democratic Association of Secretaries of State is launching an initiative to try to wrest control of those offices from Republicans, who the group claims have used their power to make it harder for certain demographics to vote.

“Buoyed by successes last year in Arizona, Colorado and Michigan, the group has set its sights on flipping five more states in 2020. In addition to recruiting and supporting Democratic candidates, the association is planning a public education campaign on the importance of secretaries of state, who oversee the election process in most states.

“The offices of governor, U.S. senator and even attorney general tend to get more attention in statewide elections than that of secretary of state. But Alex Padilla, California’s secretary of state and the head of the association, said Republicans understand the influence of the office and have used it unfairly to their party’s advantage.

” ‘For all of the talk about taking back the White House and the Senate, all the important races that people tend to focus more on, in my mind it starts with making elections fair again,’ Padilla said.”

New York Times: “The End of the Polling Booth” — “We’ve been thinking about elections backward.

” ‘The ballot belongs to the voter, not the government,’ said Phil Keisling, the former secretary of state of Oregon. ‘As long as it can be done with safety and integrity, it’s the obligation of the government to get it to me. It’s not my responsibility to qualify for it and get it.’

“Many states are taking that goal seriously, and to meet it, they are taking steps to abolish the traditional polling booth.

“Voting as a right should not be controversial. But in many places, election officials are trying to make voting more difficult. One example is Georgia, where Gov. Brian Kemp defeated Stacey Abrams by a sliver. At the time of the election, Mr. Kemp was secretary of state, overseeing voting, and rejected calls to resign and avoid a conflict of interest. Georgia purged thousands of voters from the rolls and threw out hundreds of absentee ballots. Some precincts had too few voting machines and hours when the machines were down. All of these issues disproportionately affected black voters.

“The success of this voter suppression is likely to encourage more Republicans to do the same. It’s very dangerous. But we should also worry about other states.”

David Marino produced this segment for broadcast.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org. Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.