According to Democrat Stacey Abrams, who is running in the gubernatorial race in Georgia, the coming midterm elections will be characterized by a “blue wave” of fellow Democrats elected to Congress and elsewhere, and that it will be partially due to illegal immigrants. She told her followers at a rally on October 9, “But the thing of it is, the blue wave is African-American. It’s white, it’s Latino, it’s Asian Pacific Islander. It is disabled. It is differently abled. It is LGBTQ. It is law enforcement. It is veterans.” Responding to cheers, Abrams admitted, “It is made up of those who are told they are not worthy of being here ... those who are documented and undocumented.”
Accompanying Abrams was fellow progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. It was not clear from Abrams’s remarks whether she expected illegal immigrants to go to the polls or that their supposed interests would be represented by Democrats gaining office. Abrams hopes to become the first black, female Democrat to serve as governor in the United States.
On Monday, Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp told Fox News that Abrams "wants illegals to vote in Georgia." Kemp added, "I think hard-working Georgians should decide who their governor is, not people here illegally like my opponent wants." He told "Fox & Friends," that it is unlawful for illegal immigrants to vote in the gubernatorial election. It is also illegal for legal permanent non-citizen immigrants to vote in elections. Abrams said over the weekend that Kemp seeks to “scare” voters away from the polls.
Abrams is not courting older white voters, but is instead looking for support among young and minority voters who have had little ballot participation in the past. A novelist and former state representative, Abrams has the endorsement of Hillary Clinton. Abrams has asserted that Kemp -- who serves as Georgia’s secretary of state -- is suppressing minority and female voters. Democrats have cited Kemp’s lobbying efforts with the Republican-majority state legislature to pass so-called "exact match" voter registration into law. This law requires the information on file at the state’s driver license agency must exactly match information on driver’s licenses, state I.D. or the federal Social Security Administration. Kemp has said that Abrams's accusations are a "smokescreen" and a "distraction" that is intended to "hide her radical views."
On Sunday, Abrams told CNN that Kemp is "eroding the public trust" because office of the secretary of state has has held up 53,000 new voter registration applications and questioned their legality. Abrams wants Kemp to resign as chief elections officer. "This is simply a redux of a failed system that is both designed to scare people out of voting and ... for those who are willing to push through, make it harder for them to vote," Abrams told CNN's Jake Tapper.
The Kemp campaign has dubbed Abrams’s objections a "publicity stunt” that came in response to due diligence on the part of election officials. While early voting is getting into gear in Georgia, "They are faking outrage to drive voters to the polls in Georgia," Kemp spokesman Ryan Mahoney said on Sunday. "The 53,000 'pending' voters can cast a ballot just like any other Georgia voter," Mahoney said. Georgia’s voter identification requirement applies even for established voters who never miss an election.
The 53,000 pending voter registrations may be the key to victory in the close race. Abrams is relying on votes from infrequent voters, especially minorities and young people. And according to the Associated Press, 70 percent of the pending applications are from black Georgians.
Abrams scoffed Sunday at that argument, predicting that it's too much of a "subjective standard" for local elections officials to have to decide on Election Day whether a voter's identification is good enough. "It would be much easier if he actually did his job and processed people in a proper fashion," she said, adding that "53,000 have been told, 'You may be able to vote, you may not, it's up to you to prove it.'"
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in federal court on Thursday against Kemp, which accuses Kemp of delaying the registration of 53,000 voters as an effort to boost his campaign. Kemp’s spokesman noted that Abrams’s New Georgia Project filed a similar suit in 2014 that was thrown out before Election Day.
Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.