WaPo: Stacey Abrams to start national ‘voter protection’ program

Former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams plans to announce a national program aimed at helping Democrats in key states improve their “voter protection operations” ahead of next year’s election, The Washington Post reported.

The program, named “Fair Fight 2020,” will focus its attention on helping “Democratic Party leaders and activists” in more than a dozen states “to immediately begin building systems to make sure their voters have minimal problems casting ballots and that those ballots are counted,” according to the Post.

Many Democrats have expressed concern that Republicans will attempt to suppress votes in upcoming elections, and that recent actions — including a 2013 Supreme Court ruling striking down key parts of the Voting Rights Act, increased Republican gerrymandering of congressional districts and efforts to impose tough requirements on ex-felons who have recently been given the ability to vote — could have the effect of disenfranchising minority voters.

Brian Kemp, Abrams’ Republican opponent in last year’s gubernatorial race, oversaw Georgia’s election as secretary of state. He promoted and enforced some of the nation’s most restrictive voting laws and was accused repeatedly before and during the campaign of seeking to suppress the minority vote. He pushed back on such charges, saying he said he was enforcing election law.

The Post said Abrams’ effort will target more than a dozen battleground states in the Midwest and Southeast as well as Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi, three states that have gubernatorial elections this year. The initiative is expected to cost between $4 million and $5 million, according to the Post, which noted it derives its name from “Fair Fight,” a voter protection organization Abrams launched in Georgia after losing her election to Kemp.

The chief executive officer of Fair Fight, Lauren Groh-Wargo, told the Post that Abrams hopes to help Democrats combat the types of the issues that occurred last year in Georgia’s gubernatorial election, including “inaccurate voter rolls, shortages of voting machines and provisional ballots and lack of uniform rules for counting absentee ballots.”

The Post said typically, organizations like the one Abrams will announce on Tuesday aren’t created until the beginning of the general election, but Groh-Wargo said that in light of “ongoing efforts by Republican state lawmakers to pass more restrictive voting laws,” starting the initiative now was critical.

Most of the program will be operated by Fair Fight PAC, the paper said, adding that when campaign finance laws in the targeted states allow for it, the organization “will make direct cash donations or will help the groups raise money to hire staff, set up voter hotlines and develop public information campaigns.”

The Post also said aides to Abrams, who has been publicly mulling a 2020 bid, have said the Democrat “has privately reached out to party leaders to let them know that she would not join the presidential race,” instead asking for their help with the forthcoming program.