ATLANTA – With the 2022 midterm election around the corner, Stacy Abrams, the Democratic nominee for governor, emphasized the importance of voting in November during an event Monday evening.
“My priority is democracy,” Abrams said. “I want to ensure that every voter is able to register, cast a ballot and have that ballot validated regardless of who they cast the ballot for.”
Abrams spoke at the Equality On The Ballot event organized by The 19th, a nonprofit news organization, at the Buckhead Theater to a crowd of about 60.
Abrams will face incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in November. Abrams lost to Kemp in 2018 when he ran for governor while also overseeing election as secretary of state, and her voting rights group later filed a lawsuit accusing the state of voter suppression. A ruling in that case is pending.
“We have an obligation as Americans to both acknowledge the intention of our voters to sustain the stability of our democracy, but also to challenge the broken systems,” Abrams said.
Most recently, Abrams and other Democratic officials and voting rights advocates have assailed Georgia Republicans for passing legislation that made changes to early voting, absentee ballots and ballot drop boxes, among other things. Those changes shortened the window for voting absentee and decreased the number of ballot drop boxes in metro Atlanta , a region that leans Democratic and where half of voters are people of color.
“It is imperative, especially those who have the platform and microphone, to talk about the access,” Abrams said. “If we don’t do it, who will speak up for those who don’t know where the microphone is?”
Other political activists from Georgia also spoke at the event. Aisha Yaqoob Mahmood, the executive director of the Asian American Advocacy Fund, echoed Abrams’ concerns regarding language barriers.
“We have community members that come from different countries and political backgrounds where voting may not be something that they have ever done before,” She said. “They may not trust the political system and they may not trust the government entities that are trying to get them to register for anything.”
Mahmood pointed to recent changes in some metro counties to translate election materials into other languages. Gwinnett recently added four Asian languages in addition to Spanish. Dekalb offers materials in Korean and Spanish. Cobb and Fulton offer election materials in English only.
Speaking after the event, Estefani Vasquez, 25, a freelance makeup artist from Atlanta, said it was nice to see a political candidate acknowledge that voting can be a challenge for some.
“English is my second language and till this day, I still have difficulty understanding my own voting rights and translating what I know to my mom,” Vasquez said.