Now that the dust has settled on Georgia’s 2022 runoff election, one thing remains clear: this election was about more than a particular party or candidate. Despite everything standing in their way, Georgia voters made their voices heard at the ballot box. Georgians turned out despite the rain and racially discriminatory voter suppression.
This year’s midterm election in Georgia was the first cycle under SB202. The new law, emblematic of modern-day voter suppression, posed several hurdles for voters. It limited voter registration windows, allowed anyone to challenge a voter’s registration, restricted voters’ access to mail-in ballots, and more. Voter suppression is nothing new. Our forefathers and foremothers faced poll taxes, literacy tests, and violence to cast their ballots. Today, we’re facing a different set of voter suppression tactics in the form of bills like SB202. But we’re continuing in their footsteps to make the promises of a multiracial democracy a reality and ensure our communities have access to the ballot box.
Despite these obstacles, civic organizers across our state fought tirelessly to deliver historic voter turnout. This election serves as a referendum on voter suppression. People power prevailed.
When early voting the Saturday after Thanksgiving was challenged, organizers and advocates pushed back, securing a critical day for Georgians to access the ballot box. In fact, 70,000 Georgians voted that very day.
Right now, early voting data is clear: voters continued to turn out at record levels during the runoff in our state. In fact, more than 1.8 million ballots were cast during the early voting period, 154,176 mail-in ballots and 1,713,405 early in-person voters. This early voting data also shows a statewide turnout of 26.7%, with BIPOC voters’ turnout at 22.03%. Most critically, voters of color turned out in early voting at higher levels than their white counterparts in every age category except over 65.
I understand this win deeply as a Black woman and the leader of a grassroots organization, ProGeorgia. We are a local, diverse coalition fighting for an equitable and inclusive democracy. Together with our partners, ProGeorgia met people where they were.
Through 31,000 face-to-face conversations, 10 million texts, and 133,000 phone conversations, we registered tens of thousands for the midterm election. In the runoffs alone, we provided three million Georgians with information and resources to help overcome the myriad obstacles intended to keep them from voting. We also coordinated poll monitoring in all 95 priority counties and engaged over 500 volunteers state-wide to ensure everyone could cast their ballots free from the threat of violence or intimidation.
And it’s not just us. It’s our incredible partners we leaned on to get the work done. The genesis of ProGeorgia began in 2011 after a small group of non-profit organizations worked together on civic engagement during the 2010 election season. In 2012, ProGeorgia was officially established by 13 founding organizations. Now, we are nearly 50 organizations strong and growing. This past election, especially during the runoffs, we leaned on our trusted partners in our fight for our democracy. Partnership for Southern Equity, Georgia Equality, Black Voters Matter, Coalition for the People’s Agenda, Georgia STAND-UP, and GALEO were instrumental in securing this critical win for people power.
We are highly attuned to the needs of our communities and deeply committed to making sure our voices and the voices of our neighbors are heard. Our stories deserve to be heard, and our accomplishments and contributions recognized
Tuesday, it wasn’t a candidate or a political party that won in Georgia. It was the will of the people.
Tamieka Atkins is the executive director of ProGeorgia, Georgia’s state-based non-partisan voter engagement advocacy organization, and a member of the State Voices Affiliated Network.
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