UPDATED: 10:15 a.m. ET, Aug. 20 —
Originally published: Nov. 6, 2020:
Heavy praise was being lavished upon Stacey Abrams on Friday morning after it was reported that only a small fraction of eligible voters in Georgia remained unregistered to participate in elections.
Ninety-five percent of every citizen of the state of Georgia over the age of 18 is registered to vote, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on Thursday without directly crediting Abrams. And while Abrams is far from alone in the fight for fair access to the ballot, to discount the role she’s played in getting to this point would be foolhardy.
The report further validated confirmed the hard work championed by Abrams and other voting rights advocates in multiple ways. First, it means the electoral gap caused by voter suppression that prevented Abrams from becoming governor of Georgia back in 2018 is effectively closed. It also likely pushed the state to become even bluer after its election-sealing electoral college votes in 2020 and the election of two U.S. Senators to give the majority to Democrats.
But another understated and crucial aspect of the astronomical rate of registered voters in Georgia is that they were mobilized at a time when the Republican-led state legislature enacted “racist” laws increasing elections restrictions that make it “particularly” harder for Black people to vote, according to a federal lawsuit against Georgia’s Republican leadership filed back in June.
All of the above and then some added up to Abrams becoming a top trending topic on Twitter Friday morning as tweets populated timelines giving her the social media flowers she deserves.
It was similar to back in January after Abrams was widely credited for galvanizing Georgia voters to make Black history with the election of Rev. Raphael Warnock, who beat Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler to become the first Black U.S. Senator from the Peach State following an intense runoff campaign and close election.
It’s been an ongoing lovefest for Abrams ever since her majorly successful efforts getting out the voters to cast their ballots in November’s general election; an election that saw Georgia’s electoral college votes become the deciding factor that helped evict Donald Trump from the White House by flipping the traditionally red state blue.
Especially impressive has been Abrams’ expert organizing against the same kind of voter suppression efforts suffered by her historic gubernatorial candidacy nearly three years ago.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported there were about 300,000 more voters in the runoff elections than during the general election last month. That’s due in no small part to Abrams’ ground game of organizing voter drives and other events designed to encourage civic participation in the democratic process.
Warnock’s win has revived calls for Abrams to serve a leading role within the national Democratic Party instead of being seemingly relegated to Georgia, a state that was crucial for beating Trump and gaining control of the Senate.
Abrams offered her congratulations to Warnock and predicted his success in the Senate.
“Soon, he will walk those august halls & cast votes as a leader with courage, justice and integrity,” Abrams tweeted in part Wednesday morning.
It was a humility that we’ve seen before from Abrams.
Back when Biden was first projected to win the general election, Abrams chose to deflect the praise being sent her way and instead paid homage to other individuals and groups who also helped pave the way for a Democratic presidential nominee to win the state of Georgia for the first time in nearly 30 years.
“My heart is full,” Abrams tweeted at the time.
She then selflessly asked Georgians to name other people she may have missed “who’ve been in the trenches and deserve the plaudits for change.”
People were also crediting the spirit of voting rights pioneer John Lewis for the reason why the presidential race between Biden and Trump has narrowed in Georgia, but Abrams’ role — which effectively took the late Congressman’s electoral baton and ran with it — cannot be overstated.
That’s why there’s a growing movement across social and mainstream media to recognize her considerable contributions that made Georgia the deciding factor in the 2020 presidential election.
Abrams was able to redirect the momentum she gained with her historic gubernatorial campaign by starting the Fair Fight organization after that election was effectively robbed from her by her former opponent and current Gov. Brian Kemp, who was accused of suppressing votes from Black communities in order to win the race.
She turned that decidedly negative moment into what has become a very positive movement to protect the integrity of elections by making sure they’re fair, encouraging people to vote and making voters aware of their rights at the polls.
That effort more than worked several counties in Georgia that are traditionally Democratic strongholds handed Biden the state’s 16 electoral college votes to push him past the crucial threshold of 270 electoral college votes. As such, Abrams’ hard work has been credited with making Georgia — traditionally a so-called red state expected to be won by Republican candidates — a battleground swing state.
A closer look at the counties involved — Fulton and DeKalb — reveals they each have high populations of Black people, placing an even greater emphasis on the role that Black voters have been playing in the election season, which is due in no small part to Abrams and her organizing. That fact further presented a different and more accurate perspective about Black voters, who have been vilified after data showed a greater share of their electoral support went to Trump compared to four years ago.
Not for nothing, with the political cycle moving at such a rapid rate, it’s also easy to forget that Abrams was at one time highly favored to be Biden’s vice-presidential running mate. She was even rumored to be considering her own run at the White House. But at the time, her spokesperson said, “fighting voter suppression and making sure our nominees have what they need to fight on the ground is what’s most important” to Abrams.
Those words turned out to be prophetic.
After losing her gubernatorial election, she became a darling of Democrats and was considered a rising star when she accepted an offer to deliver the Party’s official rebut Trump’s State of the Union address last year. She opted to do the necessary grunt work on the ground t lay the foundation for the pivotal moment that is upon the country right now.
Although Biden ultimately picked Sen. Kamala Harris to be his running mate, Abrams kept her eyes on her ultimate prize and never gave up the good — or, fair — fight.
All of which is why people were already wondering if there was a place in a cabinet under a Joe Biden presidential administration. Or perhaps, some folks wondered on social media, Democrats would be better served by her talents as head of the Democratic National Committee.
Biden’s win made it clear that the political sky is the limit for Abrams, who will have no shortage of options for what she should do next.
In the meantime, it’s abundantly clear that Abrams needs to be given her flowers right now.