Wednesday, December 5, 2018


words by Charles Brooks

Photo Credit: Marco Verch
Although the much talked about blue wave managed to sweep in a number of black elected officials during the 2018 election cycle – the nation still has no black governors.

This year’s election cycle saw an unprecedented 3 blacks running for governor; Ben Jealous (Maryland), Stacey Abrams (Georgia) and Andrew Gillum (Florida) each won their respective primaries but lost in the general election.  The race in Maryland was settled on election night with Jealous pulling in 43.5% of the vote with over one million votes, but lost by over 270, 000 votes. The races in Florida and Georgia, however were too close to call on election night forcing Gillum to withdraw his concession while Abrams pointed to the thousands of uncounted votes left on the table and just flatly refused to concede her race.

 Governor-elect Brian Kemp nevertheless declared victory and ironically two days later, resigned as the Georgia’s secretary of state.  The same secretary of state who was repeatedly under fire for deploying voter suppression tactics for years leading right up to the 2018 elections.  The nation watched as the drama unfolded in both Florida and Georgia with accusations of racism, voter suppression tactics, election day shenanigans, reports of long voter lines along with “misplaced” ballots and missed deadlines.  Both campaigns took on what appeared to be herculean efforts to ensure every vote is counted with a flurry of lawsuits.

But after nearly two weeks, Abrams and Gillum officially ended their gubernatorial campaigns.  In conceding the election Gillum asserted, “We wanted to make sure that every single vote, as long as it was a legally cast vote, we wanted those votes to be counted.”

But Abrams, on the other hand, not only refused to concede the race to Kemp but took a step further

with her refusal to acknowledge the legitimacy of Kemp’s win.  When she ended her campaign, Abrams spoke to her supporters and said, "…So let's be clear, this is not a speech of concession, because concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true or proper. As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede that.”  A few days later, she generated more headlines and debate after appearing on CNN’s Sunday’s political talk show, State of the Union. On the show, Abrams remained persistent in her refusal to recognize Kemp as the legitimate governor. Although she acknowledged Kemp receiving the number of votes needed to be declared the “legal” winner according to the elections laws but as Abrams explained: “…but we know that the law does not do what it should and that something legal does not make it right. This is someone who compromised our systems, he’s compromised our Democratic systems.”

When Abrams spoke to her supporters, she announced the launch of a new voting rights organization, Fair Fight Georgia and plans to file a major federal lawsuit against Georgia for gross mismanagement and to protect future elections from unconstitutional actions. Days after appearing on CNN, Fight Fair Action filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.  The lawsuit points out that Georgia has a history of neglecting its elections infrastructure and suppressing votes – particularly of people of color. “The Secretary of State and State Election Board grossly mismanaged an election that deprived Georgia citizens, and particularly citizens of color, of their fundamental right to vote.” 

The lawsuit describes Georgia’s electoral process as a violation to the Constitution’s 1st, 13th and 14th Amendment as well as Section II of the Voting Rights Act. The lawsuit also discloses a number of allegations with widespread implications from voter suppression tactics designed to disenfranchise voters. The lawsuit cites the mass purging of voter registrations, the closing and relocating polling places, the failure to provide functioning voting machines, provisional and absentee ballots.  Abrams tells her supporters, “…Because these votes are our voices. We are each entitled to our choices…”

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