“Why should young people feel encouraged about the future of public politics?”
The question came from a young college journalist, looking across the table at the former Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia and founder of the election awareness organization Fair Fight Action Stacey Abrams.
“The disassociation and lack of trust in politics is not new; it changes from generation to generation,” Abrams answered. “I’m a realist, and I believe very little happens when you give up. Younger people’s voices matter because if it didn’t, [people] would not try so hard to silence it.”
On Jan. 19, Stacey Abrams held a Fair Fight Action event to give young journalists an opportunity to interview her.
Abrams says she feels that not many young reporters get the chance to experience what it is like to interview a politician or someone who is active in their communities.
“I want young people to see themselves, regardless of their status, race, gender or ethnicity and become active in politics,” she said. “Because right now, their voices are a minority but the louder their voices are makes change happen.”
Abrams reached out to journalists at different universities across the state to allow the story of her Fair Fight Action organization to be told by them. These young journalists will soon be the trusted reporters for news, she said.
“Young voices matter the most when they actually pick people to represent them in government who are willing to actually make changes,” Abrams said. “I don’t give in to the nihilism because I have seen change happen, and I know it’s possible.”
Abrams believes that diversity in voters is also important.
“The rules of America are made by those who get elected and those who get appointed … by being a part of a minority group [including race and age], our views and experiences are not a part of the change,” she said.
Abrams said that it’s important for young people to vote because they will inherit the choices their leaders make, good or bad, although she wants those choices to be the right ones.
“We live in a democracy where we vote for our officials … without active participation in our democracy, young people become victims,” she said.
Abrams says she did not want young people to become victims of poor decisions because they are not involved in their communities or are not aware of what is going on.
“If we want to live and achieve a more just and equitable society, those who face inequity have to be a part of the conversation,” she said. “I want young people to get involved because we need the help … when we show up in large numbers that helps get things done.”
According to its website, Fair Fight Action works to promote “fair elections in Georgia and around the country, encourage voter participation in elections and educate voters about elections and their voting rights.”
After witnessing what she calls the gross mismanagement of the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election by the office of then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp, Abrams was inspired to create Fair Fight Action because she says she was not given a fair run in the 2018 election for governor of Georgia.
Abrams served 11 years in the Georgia House of Representatives and seven as minority leader before running for governor.
In the few years since the start of Fair Fight, she has already begun drafting new legislation to reform voting rights in Georgia.
In November 2018, Abrams and her leadership team filed a historic lawsuit against the Secretary of State and the State Elections Board of Georgia.
The lawsuit will challenge the alleged management of the 2018 election, claiming that voters were discouraged and disenfranchised. The lawsuit demands definitive improvements to the Georgia elections system for three stages of voting: voter registration, ballot access and ballot counting.
“The way the lawsuit was drafted does not affect the 2018 election, but it does call into question the issues with the system,” Abrams said. “And if we are victorious, it will have the effect of improving the system for voters who were particularly left out.”
The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Shelby County v. Holder case in 2013 took away the requirement for states and local governments to get approval from the federal government before implementing any changes to their voting laws or practices.
Fair Fight Action is currently trying to amend this decision by bailing in Georgia, which will make people accountable for their actions.
“This will not solve voting rights for all; it will only affect the state of Georgia, but we believe if we are bailed in it would absoutely improve the life for voters,” she said.
This organization will give Abrams a platform in the South to voice her opinions and ideas on how to end voter suppression.
After losing the 2018 gubernatorial election, Abrams referred to her 10-day period from Nov. 6-16 as a time where she spent feeling very angry but also thinking about what she wanted to do next.
“I did not run for office because of the title. I ran for office because of the work … and I had a lot of policies I was promoting that were often being subsumed in the latter day of the election by the voter suppression laws,” she said.
Abrams said that voting rights became a bigger purpose for her work after the election.
Fair Fight intends to work to inform people of their right to vote through voter mobilization and educational activities. They think that the biggest issues with voting is that local and state governments intentionally make voting difficult.
“Voter mobilization is a consequence of voter education. People vote when they know how the process works and when they believe their vote matters,” Abrams said. “Our mission is not simply to fight voter suppression but to overwhelm the system through voter turn out.”
Abrams’ work in Georgia is more important to her than just her home state.
“When our right to vote is imperiled in any state, all Americans are threatened,” Abrams said.
Editor’s Note: A previous version referred to Abram’s organization as “Fair Fight” but this refers to the PAC while “Fair Fight Action” is the main non-partisan organization.