Stacey Abrams: Lawyer, voting rights activist who turned Georgia blue

Stacey Abrams lost a gubernatorial race to Republican Brian Kemp in 2018 by a narrow margin of 50,000 votes, in an election that was marred by widespread allegations of voter suppression. In her campaign closing speech, Abrams announced the creation of Fair Fight Action, a grassroots organisation to bolster voter registration efforts and counter the unfair voter suppression tactics which Abrams said led to her loss.

In November last year, when Joe Biden flipped Georgia, a state which hadn’t elected a Democrat president in more than two decades, credit went to Stacey Abrams and many other women of colour like her, who have been organising their community since Abrams was a minority leader in Georgia’s House of Representatives. Although Abrams alone cannot be credited for the record number of voter registration through years of political canvassing, she has become the most popular face of a movement propelled by scores of Black women. These same women successfully delivered another resounding victory on Wednesday in the Georgia senate runoffs.

Lawyer, voting rights activist

Stacey Abrams is a native of Mississippi, which much like Georgia was one of the seven Confederate states that fought against the United States of America in the civil war, resisting abolition of slavery. Abrams, who is a lawyer, Democrat politician, and a voting rights activist, was elected as the minority leader in Georgia’s lower chamber in 2011, and thus began her work of strengthening the Democratic party’s base in the state.

The most pivotal moment in Abram’s political career was the infamous 2018 gubernatorial race, where Brian Kemp a staunch Trump ally, who was serving as the secretary of state of Georgia at that time, deregistered more than 1.4 million voters between 2012 and 2018, with some 700,000 voters being deregistered in 2017 alone. Since then Abrams has repeatedly emphasised that Kemp’s tenure as the secretary of state, whose office has access to voter registration data, conflicted with this campaign for governor, and has refused to acknowledge Kemp as the rightful winner.

Abram’s role in turning Georgia blue

Joe Biden was able to flip Georgia by a razor-thin margin of 0.24% votes in the state which had voted for Donald Trump in the last election. Abrams along with the women who worked with her in her grassroots campaign have registered close to 800,000 voters from the Latino, Black, and Asian communities, all minority groups, and have been able to successfully turn the registration into votes.

Abrams told the New York Times that before her 2018 bid for governor she drove to 150 of Georgia’s 159 counties, trying to figure out where the party needs to become more viable. “But when I got into those places, there was always someone there to meet me — who had been waiting for someone to come to help connect and help them build this network,” Abrams told NYT. “So whether it was finding Black voters in South Georgia, and working with Black immigrants in Gwinnett, or working with the Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders community, or going to North Georgia and meeting with more and more Latino voters,” she said.

The network Abrams talked about is the one which delivered a Democratic victory in a deep south state. Abrams and her grassroots organisers were not just able to encourage Black voters, they even turned many college-educated suburban White women into Biden voters, even though they had traditionally voted for Republicans.

Abram’s commitment to making every vote count is visible on her Twitter account. In the race up to the Georgia runoffs, Abrams not only encouraged people to show up to the polls, but she also educated and continuously reminded them to check in with voter helplines to make sure their ballots were counted.

Abrams is reportedly planning to run for governor in 2022. She is undoubtedly one of the most influential politicians in America today who is not in office. Donald Trump in his recently leaked infamous phone call to Georgia’s secretary of state, asking him to overturn the election results, can be heard saying “Stacey Abrams is laughing about you. She’s going around saying, ‘These guys are dumber than a rock.’”

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