Stacey Abrams may have conceded in this year’s hotly contested governor’s race, but the fight to make Georgia elections fairer and more democratic is far from over.
A political group backed by Stacey Abrams, Fair Fight Action, filed a federal lawsuit in Atlanta on Tuesday against interim Secretary of State Robyn Crittenden and state election board members, reports the Associated Press. Fair Fight Action, whose CEO, Lauren Groh-Wargo, was Abrams’ campaign manager, asks a judge to intervene to protect voting rights in the state, citing “gross mismanagement” of Georgia’s elections this past election cycle.
While voter suppression allegations have dogged more and more states in recent years (Florida, Wisconsin, and North Dakota are other prominent examples), Georgia’s GOP received intense scrutiny for particularly egregious attempts to curb voting in the state.
As multiple outlets reported, voters faced long lines on election day and malfunctioning voting machines—after the election, hundreds of electronic voting machines were found unused in government warehouses. Some voters said the absentee and provisional ballots they cast were never counted or discounted. Before voters ever got to the polls, thousands of Georgian registration applications were put on hold. Of the approximately 53,000 voters affected, 70 percent were African American, the AP found. And, as the Atlanta Journal Constitution notes, Georgia voters have lost 214 voting precincts since 2012.
According to the AJC, the Fair Fight Action lawsuit calls for Georgia to implement a number of changes to its elections, including:
...use paper ballots to validate the accuracy of elections, stop canceling voter registrations because they haven’t participated in a recent election, train local election officials and prevent the state’s “exact match” voter registration law from harming legitimate voters.
To call voting in Georgia a whole-ass mess would be generous. And the messiness of the entire process left a bitter taste in many people’s mouths, including Abrams, who highlighted the state’s failures in her concession speech earlier this month.
“We all understand challenges and complications; however, this year, more than two hundred years into Georgia’s democratic experiment, the state failed its voters,” Abrams said in her speech, pointing out that despite record turnout in the 2018 midterms, “more than a million citizens found their names stripped from the rolls by the Secretary of State”—the secretary of state she’s referring to here being none other than her opponent, Brian Kemp.
While Abrams called Kemp “deliberate and intentional” in his effort to disenfranchise voters, she struck a hopeful note.
“Georgia still has a decision to make about who will we be in the next election,” Abrams added, “So we have used this election and its aftermath to diagnose what has been broken in our process.”
“The antidote to injustice is progress. The cure to this malpractice is a fight for fairness in every election held—in every law passed—in every decision made,” she said.