On Tuesday morning, Stacey Abrams revealed that she was told she wasn’t eligible to vote when she went to the polls to cast an in-person ballot in Georgia’s midterm election, providing her own example of how voter suppression tactics prevent thousands of people from voting.
First, let’s get one narrative out of the way. Conservative political pundits are now twisting the narrative surrounding Georgia and Florida’s midterm election. They have begun pushing a false equivalency that suggests that both sides—Republican and Democrat—have made untrue allegations of vote tampering and voter suppression.
On Tuesday’s episode of NPR’s Morning Edition, Georgia’s most recent Democratic nominee for governor illustrated the difference between the two arguments. The side that claims they want to make America great again has made unfounded allegations that saboteurs committed voter fraud by using wardrobe changes to vote multiple times, forging ballots, not counting Republican votes, and handing out absentee ballots to Florida inmates following the election.
However, on Tuesday morning, Abrams told host Steve Inskeep that she was attempting to vote last month when a poll worker informed her that the records showed that she had requested an absentee ballot, illustrating the validity of the problems people have pointed out in Georgia’s electoral process.
“The day I voted, I had to correct the poll worker who said I had filed for an absentee ballot,” Abrams explained. “It took a few minutes for me to be able to cast my ballot because of problems with the polling places.”
When asked if there was a computer or a voter roll in front of the poll worker, Abrams said “Yes,” adding, “I had to explain to her, ‘This is not correct, I’ve never applied for an absentee ballot.’”
“I did it quietly. I didn’t turn it into a major conversation. But it was also emblematic to me of the privilege that I have,” said the Yale Law graduate. “I know the law.’”
And that is the difference.
One side is making up unfounded claims of election fraud while the other side points to inarguable facts, such as:
- The Associated Press analysis that showed 70 percent of the 53,000 voter registrations that were put on hold were from African Americans
- Georgia’s “exact match” policy disproportionately affects nonwhite voters, according to the Washington Post.
- In the state’s most populous and diverse area, Gwinnett County, 1 in 10 absentee ballots were tossed out because of the signature matching problems.
- The secretary of state’s website was not secure and allowed anyone to download voters’ private information.
That’s how voter suppression works. In Abrams’ situation, many voters would have simply acquiesced. Whether it was because of incompetence or part of an intentional effort, voter suppression actually happened in Georgia.
“The totality of the errors made...” Abrams explained to NPR, “One and a half million people purged; 53,000 put on hold, 3,000 denied the right to register as new citizens, long polling lines, misplaced provisional ballots—the totality of the issues demonstrates that there has been gross mismanagement of our elections” (emphasis mine).
On whether she should have been the winner, Abram’s said, “I’m not suggesting that I know I would have won, but I am saying that the results were unalterably made less safe and less secure because of the actions taken by the secretary of state.”
We don’t know because of how insidious this behavior has been. And that is why I was willing to acknowledge that the election was over. Because, given the current state of our laws, this is what is true. But my point is that it was not a fair fight.”
That’s all I’m saying.