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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Every vote counts in Georgia


Stacey Abrams’ fortitude based on historical precedent

When I watch the growing coverage of the ongoing Georgia gubernatorial race a week after the polls have closed, I’m reminded of what Stacy Abrams, the Democratic candidate in the gubernatorial race, not only means to the greater conversation about voter suppression in Georgia but also the greater American legacy of it.

Abrams’ resoluteness in counting every absentee ballot and provisional ballot stems from Georgia’s past with voter suppression.

Beyond Georgia’s long and deeply entrenched past with slavery, where black people weren’t even considered human beings or more accurately three fifths of a human being, during the Jim Crow era black Georgians were heavily discriminated against especially in terms of voting rights.

Constitutionally, all American citizens were allowed to vote in Georgia during the Jim Crow era, but Democratic state legislature was passed.

These laws exploitied the systemic disadvantages faced by black people based on their lower economic status or the propensity the black community at that time to be largely illiterate.

This legislature severely limited people of color’s, primarily black people’s, right to vote due to cumulative poll taxes in 1877, literacy tests in 1908; the list goes on.

Built upon this historical legacy of voter suppression of people of color in Georgia, Abrams stands her ground in a new age of voter suppression that disproportionately affects black people once again. 

In this way, Abrams is standing up to a prominent and well-documented historical infringement of rights that every American citizen supposedly has access.

She is also standing up to a variant of that same suppressive system based solely on race and economic status that has cropped up in her own election this year.

A law was enacted under the purview of Abrams’ opponent, Former Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, to suppress the votes of those a part of the lower class and people of color.

The 53,000 voter registration applications that were seized in an attempt to curtail voter fraud under the “exact match” system that Kemp helped put into place as Secretary of State, called into the question the validity of his “win”.

The “exact match” system depended on if the voter registration application and the information on the form matched the state driver’s license and social security records of the applicant.

While this seems rather inconsequential and not particularly noteworthy, of the 53,000 applications that were seized and not processed, 70 percent of those applicants were black Georgia citizens.

Although there is no way to prove a causal connection between the “exact match” system and the 70 percent black Georgians whose voter registration was suspended, there is a very clear correlation based on the magnitude of the black individuals that were affected.

The Georgia gubernatorial race in this way is ushering in a new era of voter suppression that disproportionately affects black people. It isn’t poll taxes or literacy tests, but it is serious.

Regardless of a federal judge relaxing the requirements of the “exact match” system, it is still a legal form of oppression that the state of Georgia has on the books.

This is why Abrams’ dissent and her willingness to wait until every vote has been counted is so important. Her refusal to concede echoes the dissident nature of the revered Civil Rights Movement in the early 60s.

Abrams isn’t sitting at the lunch counter, but she is openly defying the voter suppression that curtailed I’m assuming numerous votes for her because of her very strong black base of supporters.

While we’ve entered a new era of voter suppression, in Abrams’ defiance we are also being ushered into a new era of resilience.  

Abrams is changing the tide. In her fortitude and strength to refuse to concede, she is taking on all of this history, the precedent of discrimination against black people, and saying “no”.

Not only is Abrams making history as the first possible black female governor in the state of Georgia, she is also continuing a long held dissidence in response to the egregiously unjust behavior against black people in this country.

Even if Abrams isn’t elected as the governor of Georgia, she has done more in the past few months to bring attention to legally discriminatory action that the state of Georgia has perpetuated against black people in recent history than I’d say most high profile political figures have. 

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