How Stacey Abrams Is Turning the Tide in Georgia

Georgia hasn’t given its 16 electoral votes to a Democratic president since Bill Clinton in 1992. But 28 years later, the reliably red southern state is poised to go blue, in large part because of the visionary efforts of Stacey Abrams.

The Yale Law School graduate, tax attorney, and former Georgia state representative became a rising star when she ran for governor of her home state in 2018, but she also lost that election to Brian Kemp under a cloud of what appeared to be racially motivated voter suppression. According to an Associated Press investigation on the eve of the election, Kemp, then Georgia’s secretary of state, mass-canceled more than a million voter registrations between 2012 and 2018, and in the run-up to the tight gubernatorial race, froze an estimated 53,000 registrations, a majority of them belonging to African American voters.

When Abrams lost by just shy of 55,000 votes, she told Vogue: “I sat shiva for 10 days. Then I started plotting.”

Abrams had long rejected the oversimplification of her state as solely populated by white conservatives. She’d advocated to turn out and protect the vote in Georgia for years: In 2013, as a member of the state legislature, she created a voter registration nonprofit called the New Georgia Project, which completed 86,000 new voter applications. But after her 2018 loss, she doubled down and became one of the country’s preeminent voting rights activists, launching the nonprofit Fair Fight to combat voter suppression. Riding the wave of support—celebrity, even (Oprah and John Legend campaigned for her)—she won during the governor’s race, Abrams traversed the state, hoping to replicate the electoral feats she achieved in her own bid, in which she tripled Latino, Asian American, and Pacific Islander voter turnout and doubled youth participation in Georgia. As Vogue noted in its profile of Abrams last year: “She inspired 1.2 million Black Democrats in Georgia to vote for her (more than the total number of Democratic gubernatorial voters in 2014)” and “gained the highest percentage of the state’s white Democratic voters in a generation.”

“We didn’t fail,” Abrams told one consortium of voters. “In the state of Georgia, we transformed our electorate.”

 

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