Talk about perfect timing.
“Our Time is Now,” the new book by Stacey Abrams released on June 9, the day of the Georgia state primary, is a tell-all about those manmade obstacles that create difficulty for people to practice their legal right to vote in the United States.
The Georgia primary debacle a few weeks ago was a perfect case study broken down by Abrams during a recent virtual presentation at Sixth and I in Northwest.
“What happened in Georgia was a combination of incompetence and malfeasance,” Abrams said. “Georgia is a state that has practiced voter suppression as an art form going back to 2010 when then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp had 12 people arrested for using absentee ballots in a school board election.”
Kemp is now governor of Georgia.
The incompetence in the Georgia case, as suggested by Abrams, referred to the training the current secretary of state did not schedule for polling staff.
Abrams is, of course, thinking about the national elections in November. And as with her last book “Lead from the Outside,” she continues to speak up about how some states try to discourage people from voting.
Blacks have a well-documented history of encountering voter suppression tactics, such as crazy registration processes like having to guess the number of beans in a jar, or police brandishing guns while walking dogs in attack mode to scare Black voters at polling sites.
Abrams sees that protecting the vote today is even more challenging because suppression schemes are being exercised during a pandemic. Through Fair Count, the organization Abrams created, her team is researching national organizations and pulling back the curtain on voter suppression tactics that states have boldly put in place.
“What I am trying to do with this book is to make us pay attention to voter suppression during the primaries so we can fix it in time for the general,” Abrams said. “The conservatives that architected this suppression hoped that we would give up. They hoped we would look away. They hoped the anger and pain would die down before November and we would allow the system to continue the way it was designed.”
The former Georgia politician said that with everything going on now, the timing of this book makes sense. Abrams’ experience with her 2018 run for Georgia governor put the issue of voter suppression at the forefront for her supporters. She also feels the call for change and fair treatment that is being expressed through current peaceful protest marches is also bringing renewed interest in voting among young people.
“We have to validate their voices. I stand in solidarity with those who are protesting,” Abrams said. “And I believe that their call for change should be met, not with excuses, but with agreement that we can’t be complicit any longer.”
Abrams knows that change will not happen overnight, and “Our Time is Now” offers a long-term game plan to strip away barriers to voting. To effect change, she urges people to register to vote, then get others to register, too. She also suggests that people introduce themselves to local public officials and volunteer to work on a campaign.
“This is a narrative that describes the urgency that compels me and millions more to push for a different American story than the one being told today,” said Abrams who is being vetted as a vice presidential candidate. “It’s a story that is one part danger, one part action, and all true. It’s a story about how and why we fight for our democracy and win.”