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Stacey Abrams Talks Voter Access & Suppression in Wisconsin

Stacey Abrams Campaigns For Joe Biden In Las Vegas
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Getty Images North America
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - OCTOBER 24: Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams waits to speak at a Democratic canvass kickoff as she campaigns for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris at Bruce Trent Park on October 24, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. In-person early voting for the general election in the battleground state began on October 17 and continues through October 30.

Voting rights have been at the forefront of American political consciousness for more than a decade. Gerrymandering, strict voter ID rules, and attempts to remove people from the voter rolls are just some of the ways voting rights have been threatened in Wisconsin.

And as this fight has continued, one person has arguably become the face and voice for voter advocacy: Stacey Abrams. She's the founder of Fair Fight Action, which advocates for equal access to the ballot box and fights against voter suppression. Abrams has called Wisconsin's current recount a scam, meant to undermine our elections.

"They are sowing disinformation, they are disrupting the actual processes of elections, and they are putting election workers in target range. Suggesting that their actions were not legitimate," says Abrams.

Voter suppression has had a direct impact on Abrams life. The politician and voting rights activist ran for Governor of Georgia in 2018 against now Governor Brian Kemp. Kemp used his power as Georgia’s secretary of state to cancel more than 1.4 million voter registrations, considered one of the largest, mass acts disenfranchising voters in U.S. history.

Voter purges are just one of the things threatening the state of U.S. democracy. Redistricting has emerged as one of the most prominent ways to disenfranchise voters through partisan gerrymandering. Wisconsin is one of the most politically gerrymandered states in the country and Abrams says that to avoid new maps with the same partisan gerrymandering, action needs to happen at the federal level.

She explains, "We need to pass the Freedom to Vote Act. [It] says very clearly that partisan gerrymandering, picking your voters, is no longer allowed in the United States."

As part of the push for voter rights, Abrams says advocates need to fight against the malaise that voter suppression can cause and be realistic about what voting can and can't do.

"A lot of folks say, 'I'm not really into politics.' My response is, 'You may not be into politics, but politics is into you.' And we need to take the time in Wisconsin and around the country ... to be honest that voting is not magic, it is medicine. It is how we treat the ills of society, it is how we improve the outcomes. But it is never going to be a one-for-one, 'we vote for this and the world changes.' It's always going to be: we get engaged and more that we need becomes real," she says.

Stacey Abrams will be at the Pabst Theatre Wednesday, September 22 in conversation with Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes.

Joy Powers hosts and produces Lake Effect. She joined WUWM in 2016.
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