Matthew’s Place
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Matthew’s Place

Turning Georgia Blue

by Isabella Zollner

It came as a shock to most of us when Georgia voted for a Democratic presidential nominee for the first time since 1972. Georgia was home to ‘conservative Democrats’ who voted Republican after the Civil Rights Act passed, and since then Georgia has been a staple of conservative southern politics. This is until Stacy Abrams came along.

In 2018, Stacy Abrams ran for Governor of Georgia against Republican Brian Kemp. She lost by a margin of only 1.4%. It seems like a simple end to a close election, but there was a lot more going on behind the scenes. For one, Brian Kemp was the sitting Secretary of State during his campaign and until the day after he declared victory. In Georgia, the Secretary of State’s duties consist of the following: “register votes, track annual corporate filings, grant professional licenses, and oversee the state’s securities’ market” (Georgia Secretary of State).

The problem this brings up is that Brian Kemp was in charge of registering, advising, and operating the votes of his own election. It is because of this that Brian Kemp’s victory is very questionable and fraught with likely voter suppression. Those theories are supported by the fact that while Brain Kemp was the Secretary of State (2012–2018) he cancelled more than 1.4 million voter registrations. In one night of July 2017, three months after he started campaigning, Brian Kemp threw out half a million voter registrations. He continued this pattern for another 8 months after he declared his election right up until he declared victory. Many of these voters were never notified that their registrations had been canceled instead finding out on election day that they would not be allowed to vote. And by October, about one month before the election, 53,000 voter registrations were put on hold — 75% of which were belonging to minorities (article with data and sources).

Overall, Brian Kemp took advantage of well over a million Georgia voters, and it still wasn’t enough for him to win the election by much more than 54,000 votes. This election was so close that even those 53,000 voters Brain Kemp kept from their constitutional right would have closed their margin by almost 98%. Although Kemp’s office was ruled against in a court, almost nothing ever came of his obvious voter suppression. One thing that did happen was Stacy Abrams flipping Georgia blue in the national election and possibly next week in the runoff Senate election.

You see, after Stacy Abrams’ election was stolen by Brian Kemp and his abuse of the Secretary of State position, she was pretty angry. And in the wake of the election, Stacy Abrams founded the Fair Fight Foundation. The Fair Fight Foundation fights to make sure not one more election is attacked and stolen the way hers was. During the 2020 campaign, Stacy Abrams and Fair Fight Foundation registered around 800,000 new voters in Georgia. Reminder here that Biden won with only a little less than 12,000 votes in Georgia. Without Stacy Abrams and the work of Fair Fight, Biden may not have won Georgia and would have been a lot closer to losing the election. We have Stacy Abrams, Fight Fair Foundation, and Brian Kemp’s terrible long term planning to thank for Georgia’s blue wave.

And now Georgia needs our help more than ever. Stacy Abrams, Fight Fair, and so many others have been working tirelessly to help Georgia senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock flip the senate and remove Mitch McConnell from the Senate Majority Leader position. But, without our help they will not be able to do that. Fair Fight, Move On, and ActBlue need your donations to create ads for potential voters to remind them that they have a right to vote and to educate them on how to become registered to vote. They need you to phone bank for the same reasons, and if you live in Georgia there are even more opportunities to volunteer. I have phone banked twice, and while it is hard work, it is the closest I have ever felt to actually affecting an election. Phone banking is especially empowering for minors seeing as we don’t normally have lots of spare money to donate and can’t vote.

I cannot stress enough how much Stacy Abrams has done for America and Georgia as well. But without the support of citizens like us she wouldn’t have had the funding to accomplish it. Stacy Abrams and all the others fighting in Georgia right now need our support and we will give it to them.

About the Author:

After being subjected to homophobic harassment in the classroom, Isabella decided to try and use her writing to encourage others to stand up for each other and themselves. Isabella is a high school student in Lafayette, IN.

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Matthew’s Place is by and for LGBTQ+ youth and a program of the Matthew Shepard Foundation l #EraseHate

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Matthew's Place

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MatthewsPlace.com is a program of the Matthew Shepard Foundation| Words by & for LGBTQ+ youth | #EraseHate | Want to submit? Email patrick@matthewshepard.org

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