Stacey Abrams Decries 'Voter Suppression' as Georgia Sees Record Turnout
Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams claimed during a Monday interview with MSNBC’s Joy Reid that her state is experiencing “voter suppression” despite the record primary elections turnout.
Abrams was an outspoken opponent of voter reform legislation passed last year in her state that among other changes required those applying for mail-in ballots to provide a driver’s license or voter I.D. number, WXIA-TV reported.
Additionally, ballot drop boxes were moved inside polling locations and only made available during voting hours.
Georgia also now prevents local governments from accepting grants from the private sector to aid in conducting elections.
These funds have been dubbed “Zuck Bucks” by conservatives, named after the over $400 million donated by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan to the Center for Tech Life in the name of assisting voting during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most of that money in Georgia and beyond went to counties then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden won in the 2020 election.
Under its new rules, the Peach State also increased the minimum number of days of early voting to 17 and allows no-excuse mail-in voting, as long as a voter provides the identification number.
In her Monday interview with Abrams, Reid said Georgia had “become ground zero for voter suppression” because of its new election law Senate Bill 202, which she characterized as “Jim Crow version 2.0.”
“Republicans, with the help from some in the political press, are now using the huge turnout in the primaries so far to push a new big lie: That the record turnout, which is mainly from Republican primary voters, means that Georgia’s suppressive voting law is not suppressive at all,” Reid added.
Headlines from news outlets including The New York Times and The Washington Post noting the high voter turnout appeared on a screen behind the host.
According to a Saturday news release from the Georgia secretary of state’s office, the number of early ballots cast was 857,401, a 168 percent increase from 2018 gubernatorial primary and a 212 percent increase from the presidential primary in 2020.
That total included 483,149 Republicans and 368,949 Democrats. The GOP had more tightly contested statewide primary races, particularly for governor, U.S. Senate and secretary of state.
As of Wednesday following election day, Abrams received 177,000 more votes running unopposed than both she and her opponent garnered together in the 2018 Democratic primary for governor: approximately 710,000 total ballots compared to 533,000 in 2018.
On the Republican side, about 1.2 million ballots were cast this year versus 608,000 during the last governor’s race.
Reid asked Abrams to comment on what the high voter turnout means in terms of her claims of voter suppression.
“The equivalent of saying that more people voting means there is no suppression is like telling people that if you get in the water there are no sharks. If more people get in the water, there are fewer sharks,” Abrams answered.
“There’s no correlation there,” the candidate continued. “Voter suppression is about blocking or impeding certain types of voters from participating in elections.”
“Right now, Republicans have the most competitive elections, but what we also don’t know is what is the mail-in ballot rejection rate? What are the difficulties people are having?” Abrams said.
The candidate argued that her supporters could still overwhelm the system and, therefore, overcome what she characterized as impediments to voting put in place by Republicans.
“But to let them off of the hook for what they’ve done, simply because they didn’t do it as well as they thought, is, I think, nonsensical,” Abrams said.
Tuesday, the Democrat repeated her charge that voter suppression is occurring, even amid the high voter turnout on election day.
“It is correlation without causation,” Abrams contended. In other words, SB 202 — even with more early voting days and no-excuse mail-in voting — has not helped voter turnout, other factors have.
“We know that increased turnout has nothing to do with suppression,” she said.
Democrat Stacey Abrams on Georgia’s skyrocketing turnout: “We know that increased turnout has nothing to do with suppression” pic.twitter.com/MzTnwNY7KK
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) May 24, 2022
The Republicans’ counterargument is the legislation clearly has not prevented record numbers from casting ballots.
“The incredible turnout we have seen demonstrates once and for all that Georgia’s Election Integrity Act struck a good balance between the guardrails of access and security,” Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger said.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp agreed, saying talk of suppression by Democrats is meant to get their base riled up to vote, The Times reported.
“They don’t want to know what the truth is,” he told supporters at a Saturday campaign event in Watkinsville.
“They don’t care what the truth is. They want to talk about the narrative that drives their base and helps their political polling,” Kemp added.
The Post, which was very critical of Georgia’s new voting law when it passed last year, seemed to concede it does not appear to be suppressing turnout.
The paper quoted a 70-year-old black women named Patsy Reid, who said, “I had heard that they were going to try to deter us in any way possible because of the fact that we didn’t go Republican on the last election when [Donald] Trump didn’t win.
“To go in there and vote as easily as I did and to be treated with the respect that I knew I deserved as an American citizen — I was really thrown back.”