Stacey Abrams quelled speculation this week that she’d be throwing her hat into the crowded Democratic presidential candidate ring but noted she’s open to becoming a vice president for any of those running. However, that’s not the only thing that Abrams is focused on as the race to election day 2020 continues. She’s announced plans for a voter protection initiative.
“The promise of democracy in America depends on free and fair elections,” the former state representative says in a promotional video announcing the effort Monday. “Elections in which every eligible voter can register, cast their ballot and have their ballot counted. But the scourge of modern voter suppression and broken electoral promises threaten that promise.”
Fair Flight 2020 is meant to “staff, fund and train Democratic voter protection teams on the ground in battleground states” in the U.S., she explained.
“There are only two things stopping us in 2020: making sure people have a reason to vote and that they have the right to vote,” NPR reported Abrams said in of the initiative at Las Vegas’ 32nd annual International Union of Painters and Allied Trades convention Tuesday.
When Abrams was running to become Georgia’s governor last year, concerns surrounding voter suppression bubbled up. Republican candidate-turned-governor Brian Kemp was running for office while maintaining his job as secretary of state, the official that is in charge of Georgia’s elections.
An October 2018 report by The Associated Press revealed there were 53,000 voter registration applications —- most from Black voters — on hold with Kemp’s office. This was because of the state’s “exact match” registration verification process, which along with the widespread cancellation of inactive voter registrations, had come under severe public criticism.
Abrams and voting rights groups charged that the secretary of state was systematically using the office to repress votes and sway the election. Critics also pointed out the policies disproportionately affect nonwhite voters; Kemp denied both claims.
Yet the AP reported that using what Kemp deemed voter roll maintenance, 1.4 million voter registrations had been canceled since 2012. In 2017 alone, almost 670,000 registrations were eliminated.
“We’re going to have a fair fight in 2020 because my mission is to make sure that no one has to go through in 2020 what we went through in 2018, because despite how hard they work, I am still here, and we are going to work to make sure every voice is heard,” Abrams said in her speech at the Vegas convention.