Stacey Abrams is the Democratic nominee to be the governor of Georgia, and the race is historic from both a local and national perspective. If Abrams, a Yale-trained lawyer and long-time legislator, wins, she will be the first Black woman to be elected as a governor in the history of the United States.
Yes, that’s right. Our country has never once elected a Black woman as governor.
If you thought that the white conservatives of the American south might play fair in these circumstances, you would be wrong.
Given the rapidly shifting demographics of both Georgia, and the country more broadly, the maintenance of White supremacy requires active measures. Enter Abrams’s Republican opponent, Brian Kemp, who also is the Georgia secretary of state. In Kemp’s capacity as secretary, he runs the state’s voting regimen, a role that has him overseeing the enactment of a new state law, which has disenfranchised tens of thousands of Georgia voters. Here’s NPR:
Georgia passed a law last year that’s known as the exact match law. And if your name or voter registration information doesn’t exactly match or pretty closely exactly match your driver’s license or Social Security information, your voter registration won’t be completed … If you look at the list of these 53,000 pending voters, 70 percent of them are African-American. If you add in other minority groups, in particular Latinos and Asians, you get up to about 80 percent minorities that are pending.
In the last several elections, the Georgia governorship has been decided by around 200,000 votes, so the disenfranchisement of at least 40,000 high propensity democratic voters is a huge advantage to the Republican candidate.
Tying up voter registration data in administrative red tape is an opaque form of voter suppression, but the state is engaging in overt tactics as well. Just yesterday, a bus carrying 40 senior citizens to the polls was stopped by county commissioners, evincing a style of voter intimidation that would seem at home in the 1960s.
While these voter suppression tactics are particularly salient in Georgia – given the historic nature of Stacey Abrams’s candidacy – Republican lawmakers have been doing everything they can to keep people of color from voting, which has been much easier for them since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in their 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision.
Republicans are worried that they can only win if they cheat, and they’re probably right. If America adhered to its founding democratic principles, many more people would be able to vote. Republicans are rightfully scared that more representative elections would lead to more Democratic lawmakers. But their pursuit of selfish, anti-democratic means of holding power in the short-term will cause long-term damage to both the effectiveness of our democracy, and the viability of their political party.