Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum on Sunday shared what turned out to be very similar experiences with voter disenfranchisement in their quest to become the first African American governors of neighboring southern states.
The elections in Florida and Georgia were both seriously flawed, but in different ways, said Gillum, one day after conceding the governor’s race in Florida to Republican House member Ron DeSantis.
“In the state of Florida, the suppression tactics are enshrined in law,” Gillum told the A.M. Joy show in his first interview since conceding the election.
“The fact that you’ve got 67 counties and the rules between them are all very diverse and different between how elections are run.”
He appeared on the program, as did Abrams, to discuss the ways in which voter suppression and race continue to play a role in American elections, especially in states in the Deep South.
Gillum also said both states’ mismanaged elections produced the same result: suppressed votes.
After an election he lost by only 34,000 votes out of a total of 8.2 million votes, Gillum — the mayor of Tallahassee, Florida — pledged to work on transforming Florida’s election process into a 21st century system.
When asked by Reid whether she believes the election outcome in the governor’s race in Georgia was illegitimate, Abrams responded that she thinks it’s legal, but that it’s wrong.
“What happened is that we have watched systematic erosion of our democracy,” she said.
In Georgia, because Brian Kemp, the Republican nominee for governor, refused to resign from his position as secretary of state while he ran for governor, election experts contend he used his position to exert undue influence on the election outcome.
Georgia has long been a cause for concern for a number of its election policies, ranging from polling place closures to technical blocking of registration and voter roll purges.
Despite these concerns about whether Kemp did not allow a free election, Abrams acknowledged Friday that her Republican opponent will be certified as the next governor of the Georgia. But she refused to concede.
She said Sunday that serving as secretary of state as Kemp did, while also running for governor may be legal under Georgia law, but it’s wrong.
“[M]orals and ethics say you don’t oversee your own victory,” she told Reid.
Her comments echoed similar remarks she made Friday when ending her election bid.
“To watch an elected official who claims to represent this state baldly pin his hopes for election on the suppression on the people’s democratic right to vote has been truly appalling,” Abrams said in her speech Friday.
“This is not a speech of concession because concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true, or proper.”
The two politicians vowed to press for electoral change in their respective states, and they continued to use social media to amplify their message.
We are going to keep fighting. We will keep working. And in the end, I believe that we will win. I am so thankful to each and every one of you. pic.twitter.com/fWCKQysGmZ
— Andrew Gillum (@AndrewGillum) November 17, 2018
It’s not simply a partisan issue, Abrams emphasized.
On December 4, for example, there’s going to be a redo of an election in a Georgia state House race because of a flawed ballot in a Republican district. A judge ordered the new election in a district where dozens of voters cast ballots in the wrong race.
“This is a systemic erosion of our administration of elections and it started and became perfected by Brian Kemp,” she insisted.
Reid asked Abrams’ opinion of some people who are calling for a boycott, especially television and movie production companies that have increasingly moved their operations to Georgia, over what they view as Kemp’s theft of the election.
I appreciate the calls to action, but I ask all of our entertainment industry friends to support #FairFightGA – but please do not #boycottgeorgia. The hard-working Georgians who serve on crews & make a living here are not to blame. I promise: We will fight – and we will win.
— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) November 18, 2018
Abrams said she opposes an economic boycott of Georgia because there’s nothing to boycott. “The election is over,” she said. “But what can happen is we can use the same energy to engage and hold him accountable, to hold everyone in power accountable.”
Abrams said her next venture will be focusing on Fair Fight Georgia, a new PAC she launched just days ago.
Her new organization will “pursue accountability in Georgia’s elections and integrity in the process of maintaining our voting rolls,” she said.