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Politics

THIS AIN’T OVER! WHAT’S NEXT IN GEORGIA GOVERNOR’S RACE

November 8, 2018

Stacey Abrams is down but not out. As of today, the Democratic candidate for governor has 48.6% of Georgia votes to opponent Brian Kemp’s 50.3%. But if you think that means she’s giving up any time soon, then you don’t know Black women.

“Our opponent has had his office declare himself the victor and we do not accept that,” the Abrams campaign said in a press call Wednesday night.

Abrams is right not to concede

During her speech on election night, Abrams said her campaign wouldn’t rest until all votes were accounted for.  

Her camp maintains that the election will end in a runoff election in December. According to the Associated Press, a spokeswoman for Kemp’s own office as Secretary of State says there are 22,000 provisional ballots left uncounted, which could be enough to trigger a runoff election. “They are trying to force an outcome … without proof … and expecting everyone to go along with it,” a member of the Abrams camp said.

Yet even beyond uncounted ballots, the sheer magnitude of fuckery that went down on election night in Georgia should be enough to give anyone pause. In Gwinnett County, a majority-Black part of Georgia, people waited in four-hour lines to cast their vote. Why? Because the voting machines in one location “mistakenly” showed up without power cords.

Though he was Abrams’ opponent in the race for governor, Kemp refused to step down from his position as Secretary of State while running for the higher office. (The Secretary of State’s job is to oversee Georgia elections.) Kemp’s racist tricks to rig Georgia’s elections didn’t start on November 6th. He has spent much of his tenure ushering in waves of voter suppression tactics that keep Georgians from the polls, an overwhelming amount of them Black. According to the Atlantic:  “Under Kemp, Georgia purged more than 1.5 million voters from the rolls, eliminating 10.6 percent of voters from the state’s registered electorate from 2016 to 2018 alone. The state shut down 214 polling places, the bulk of them in minority and poor neighborhoods. From 2013 to 2016 it blocked the registration of nearly 35,000 Georgians, including newly naturalized citizens.”

Former President Jimmy Carter, who has decades of experience overseeing elections, wrote Kemp a personal letter asking him to recuse himself so the election could be ran by an impartial authority: “This runs counter to the most fundamental principle of democratic elections — that the electoral process be managed by an independent and impartial election authority.”  

Had Tuesday’s election happened in another country, many people would be questioning its legitimacy. In fact, Samantha Power, the Ambassador to the United Nations under President Barack Obama, said that had Georgia been a country, she would have expressed concern over the election.

Thanks to an election night lawsuit from the NAACP, numerous polling places were court-ordered to stay open hours after their regular 7PM closing time to make up for chaos. Polling locations at Spelman College and Morehouse College were court-ordered to remain open until 10PM.

Let’s keep it real: voters in white areas do not have to put up with this kind of nonsense and it makes a difference. Does having the polls open a few hours later really close the gap? How many busy Black students showed up to vote, waited around, and then could not do so because of Kemp’s racist tricks? How many of them never heard that their poll would be open later or simply couldn’t find the time to come back?  Even beyond this one election, what if it was their first time voting? How do we account for the way this initial experience of democracy will be forever cemented in their minds? “Voting isn’t worth the hassle”?  

So what happens now?

What we’re not going to do is pretend like Tuesday’s election was fair. It wasn’t. And even if Kemp wants to call himself governor, we should all be clear that he got there through exclusionary, racist voter practices and outright cheating.

As Abrams said in her NON-concession speech on election night, “Every vote’s getting counted. Because I’ll tell you this in a civilized nation, the machinery of democracy should work for everyone, everywhere, not just in certain places and not just on a certain day.”

This ain’t over. Here’s how you can help:  

  • If you’ve ever hashtagged #TrustBlackWomen or #StandWithBlackWomen now is the time to make that count.
  • If you’re a Georgia voter, and you or someone you know voted under a provisional ballot, call the Georgia Democratic Voter Protection Hotline immediately to ensure your vote is counted 1-888-730-5816.
  • You can also donate to Abrams recount efforts here.

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