Abrams expands voter rights work

Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams told The Albany Herald on Thursday that she is fighting to ensure all citizens have the right to vote and that the U.S. Census count is fair.

ALBANY — An organization with the aim of fighting voter suppression in Georgia formed by 2018 gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is expanding to 19 other states.

Abrams will formally launch Fair Fight 2020 during an event at 2 p.m. Saturday in Gwinnett County.

Fair Fight 2020 will build on what the Georgia operation has done and learned since it was formed in the wake of the November election and filed a lawsuit claiming the some state residents, in particular the poor and minorities, were denied the right to vote.

Current Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican who was serving as secretary of state at the time of the gubernatorial election, actually ran statewide elections in 2018 from his office. He won with 50.2 percent of votes counted. He finished with 1,978,408 votes to 1,023,685 for Abrams, the Democratic nominee.

Fair Fight 2020 will build voter protection operations in 20 states and support and fund voter protection programs in 17 battleground states. Among those 17 states are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

“As I’ve said many times, I can’t predict empirically what the outcome would have been” if all votes were counted, Abrams told The Albany Herald during a telephone interview on Thursday. “We do know that more than 40,000 people reported issues. There were thousands and thousands of requests for aid. We had to file multiple lawsuits during the last weeks of the race to fight voter suppression.”

In addition to the lawsuit filed following the election, Abrams said Fair Fight advocates for election reform, educates voters and encourages voters to show up at the polls.

Its sister organization, Fair Fight Action, conducts activities including conducting a vote-by-mail program; educating voters about elections, voter rights and voting procedure; and a get-out-the-vote program encouraging voters to either go to the polls or cast an early ballot.

Since the 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned parts of the Voting Rights Act that specified certain jurisdictions had to clear any changes to elections or voting laws before going into effect, there have been multiple states in which suppression efforts have been ramped up, Abrams said.

That is not just in the South, she said, but Southern states are among the worst offenders.

“Every model of voter suppression is (used) in Georgia,” Abrams said.

In an effort to make sure every voter can cast a ballot, Abrams said she formed Fair Count, which is engaged in making sure the decennial U.S. Census is conducted fairly.

At this time, running for another office is not in Abrams’ plans, she said. She has said she would consider running for the office of vice president if chosen by the Democratic nominee.

“When I finished the election in 2018, I had two goals: to fight for voter integrity and protection and to make sure the Census is fair,” Abrams said. “My political future is we live in a nation where voter suppression meets its end.”

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