With three weeks until Election Day, we turn our Action series this week to a conversation with Stacey Abrams on our democracy and what’s at stake.
If you have been online in the last 24 hours, you no doubt have seen the excessively long lines from the record-breaking early voting in Georgia. While we applaud the increase in voter participation, the lines, which were reportedly as long as 11 hours, can only be considered voter suppression. This comes just after two years following Georgia’s 2018 elections which shone a bright light on the politicization and irregularities in our democracy, highlighting both decades-long actions and inactions and current trends by states to thwart the right to vote.
Luckily for our fragile democracy, Stacey Abrams hasn’t given up her fight. Stacey doubled down on her work as the founder of Fair Fight Action and Fair Count.
We have been privileged to partner with Stacey and Fair Count to ensure more attention is directed to the Census in the South in the closing weeks of the ability to be counted. Because the promise of America is that everyone has an equal opportunity to participate in our democracy.
As we shared in the “truth” part of our series, systemic voter suppression and disenfranchisement has affected our country’s electoral process since the founding of our nation. Our current system — in which too often the Senate and Presidency are controlled by officials who did not receive the most number of votes and legislation clearly representing the will of the majority of the people fails to pass — has created a deep disconnect between the governing and the governed.
What can be done to address that? How does this moment of voter suppression compare to or fit into our history? What does full participation in our democracy look like? How can we, as citizens, get involved — be it litigation, legislation or advocacy — to improve our democratic process?
These are all questions we plan to answer this Thursday.
In the face of a global pandemic, making sure all Americans are counted has never been more important, from ensuring people have the resources they need to complete the 2020 Census and adequate access to local polling locations. Tackling voter suppression is critical.
I am always in awe at Stacey’s courage, wisdom and leadership. We both see the potential for transformation in and by the South.
I hope you’ll join us virtually on Thursday.
Founder & President, E Pluribus Unum
*E Pluribus Unum is a nonpartisan organization.
Truth. Action. Reconciliation. Conversation Series Focuses on Democracy
EPU’s weekly conversation series on how we move forward together to address the issues that surround race and equity in the South
Thank you all for joining us for our fourth installment of the Action Series last week.
Missed Our Conversation on Economic Equity? Check It Out!
In our final conversation in the Action Series, we are continuing to address the question: knowing what we know, how do we move forward to build stronger, more equitable communities for all of us?
THE ACTION SERIES: The Time is Now
Thursday, October 15, 2020
2:30 pm ET/ 1:30 pm CT
NEWS AROUND THE SOUTH
Alabama’s secretary of state told voters to ignore voting mailers from a third party group in Texas telling them that they’re not registered to vote. [AL.com]
Officials from Pope County warned voters to beware of a phone scam asking people for their social security number in order to receive a vote-by-mail ballot. [Arkansas Democrat Gazette]
After heavy traffic crashed the state’s online voter registration system and potentially prevented thousands from registering in the presidential election, Florida officials extended the registration deadline by one day, while an advocacy group filed a lawsuit to buy voters more time. [WMFE]
Thousands of voters in Gwinnett County are waiting longer than usual for their absentee ballots after the county enlarged its envelopes as part of a court settlement. The envelopes now feature larger font and clearer instructions, but take extra time to process. [Atlanta Journal Constitution]
Adams: Kentucky hits the “sweet spot” with absentee balloting. [Associated Press]
Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin announced the launch of a virtual voter assistance tool called GeauxBot, created in partnership with IBM, that gives voters access to important election information such as registration deadlines, election dates and polling locations & hours. [KNOE]
Voters worried about their safety at the polls appear to be out of luck: No major changes were made to allow more absentee voting before Nov. 3. Voters’ only remaining hope may be a pending federal lawsuit challenging Mississippi’s restrictive pandemic voting rules. [Jackson Clarion Ledger]
North Carolina’s Board of Elections is telling voters to ignore more than 11,000 ballot applications that were pre-filled with incorrect information and mailed out by a third-party vendor. [WBTV]
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that South Carolina can reinstate its requirement that absentee ballots be signed by a witness, overturning a lower court ruling that blocked the law in light of concerns that it could cause a significant barrier to voting during the pandemic. [Route Fifty]
Tennessee is one of seven states with strict photo voter ID laws — along with Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Virginia in the South — meaning anyone who votes without an ID that “matches” their physical presentation according to poll workers is issued a provisional ballot. Those provisional ballots only count if the voter provides their ID shortly after. [Scalawag Magazine]
Governor Greg Abbott is facing three lawsuits over his recent decision to limit each county in the state to one drop-off site for absentee ballots. The advocacy groups that filed the lawsuits argue that the governor’s rule change came far too late in election proceedings and is tantamount to voter suppression. [Route Fifty]
A large portion of ballots will already have been cast in Virginia by the time Election Day rolls around, after a record turnout for early voting — that has featured long lines outside some polling stations and mail-in ballots coming in by the thousands per day. So far, nearly 887,000 Virginians have voted — approaching a quarter of the 3.75 million counted for the entire 2016 general election — despite concerns over mail-in ballots and the coronavirus pandemic. [Washington Post]
West Virginia is letting all voters cast their ballots by mail this year, setting aside a rule that normally restricts access. But though the state sent absentee ballot applications to all voters for the primary, it’s not doing so for the general election. [The Center for Public Integrity]
Recent News & Commentary
The Atlantic: The election is in danger. Prepare now
CNN: On time delivery of first-class mail, which contains ballots, plummets
ABC News: At least 33 states are asking voters to wear masks at the polls this year and are contending with how to respond when voters refuse
New York Times: Two of these mail ballot signatures are by the same person. Which ones?