To this day it’s unclear if Stacey Abrams legitimately lost her bid to become the first black female governor of Georgia or if Brian Kemp, double-dipping as both the Georgia secretary of state and the GOP candidate for governor, stole the election.
Either way, Abrams doesn’t have time to waste and is taking her Fair Fight 2020 initiative nationwide.
“Stacey Abrams and Fair Fight are uniquely situated to bring together the disparate parts of the Democratic Party around ensuring that we have the most robust, thoughtful voter protection operation in battleground states for 2020— and that work has to start this year,” Lauren Groh-Wargo, chief executive of Fair Fight and Abrams’s former campaign manager, told the Washington Post.
The plan is to strengthen voter protection and to make sure all votes are counted in key battleground states ahead of next year’s election. While the window for Abrams, 45, to run for president in 2020 is closing (though rumor has it she’s not running in 2020), she’s decided to focus her energy on ensuring that Democratic Party leaders in 20 states, including Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi, have no problems when casting ballots.
The idea is to make sure that other states don’t face the “widespread irregularities that characterized the Georgia gubernatorial race, including inaccurate voter rolls, shortages of voting machines and provisional ballots, and lack of uniform rules for counting absentee ballots,” the Post reports.
The plan is expected to cost around $4 to $5 million.
From the Post:
Abrams formed Fair Fight after she ended her campaign but refused to concede to Republican Brian Kemp, whom she referred to as the “architect of voter suppression” in the state. While running for governor, Kemp refused to step down from his post as secretary of state and continued to oversee the election in which he was a candidate.
Fair Fight, along with other activist groups, filed a federal lawsuit against the state alleging that it had “grossly mismanaged” the 2018 election and violated the constitutional rights of voters, especially people of color. A judge ruled in May that the case could go forward.
The Georgia Democratic Party, which employs a full-time voter protection director, worked closely with the Abrams campaign during the gubernatorial election. The campaign’s voter hotline received more than 100,000 calls from people who needed help voting or who wanted to report problems. The groups also took elections officials to court during and after the election to restore people to the voting rolls, to keep polling places open or to force officials to count ballots that had been wrongly disqualified.
Fair Fight 2020 will use some of the lessons learned in those battles to help Democrats in other states prepare their voter protection programs.
The heart of the program will be run by Fair Fight PAC and depending on states’ campaign finance laws, Fair Fight will donate money, set up hotlines for voters, or help groups raise funds to hire staff, the Post reports.
Abrams has become a political powerhouse for coming within 55,000 votes of making history in Georgia. The Post notes that Democratic presidential candidates have contacted her on how she ran such a phenomenal campaign, which had her winning her primary by 53 percentage points and coming “within less than 1.5 percentage points of becoming the nation’s first black female governor.”
So Abrams is using her voice and her star power to make sure that all votes are counted in 2020.
“I think we could see a new level of intimidation and intentional confusion,” Groh-Wargo told the Post. “The Democratic Party and those who care about free and fair elections need to be prepared. It’s really important that officials at all levels and that candidates and lawyers and volunteers are ready to help ensure voters have good information so they can cast their votes and not be harassed or intimidated away from their constitutional right to vote.”