By QUINN SCANLAN and ADIA ROBINSON, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Stacey Abrams said on ABC’s The View on Thursday that her work fighting voter suppression was key to getting Georgia to turn blue in the presidential race.
“That fight is what I think helped make the difference because voters who wanted to be heard had the ability this time to actually make it through the gauntlet, get to the ballot box and cast their votes,” she said. “But this work did not happen overnight. It didn’t happen over two years.”
Abrams has received much of the credit for Democrats’ electoral successes in Georgia this election. The former Democratic leader in the Georgia state House rose to national prominence during the 2018 gubernatorial race, which she narrowly lost to now-Gov. Brian Kemp.
Stacey Abrams to @TheView on Georgia Senate runoffs: “We need to reconsider this election…as the ‘Doug Jones’ of 2020, where we know that the essential nature of this election changes the future of our country.” https://t.co/Be6uTbf6tC pic.twitter.com/G4voH7S93b
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) November 12, 2020
But Abrams and the voting rights organizations she founded, Fair Fight and The New Georgia Project, have been thrust into the spotlight again, having helped register hundreds of thousands of Georgians to vote and leading get out the vote efforts in The Peach State that have put Georgia in play for Democrats.
So far, 105 of Georgia’s 159 counties have certified their election results, and President-elect Joe Biden is leading by approximately 14,000 votes, putting him on track to become the first Democrat to win Georgia’s electoral votes since then-candidate Bill Clinton in 1992.
On Wednesday, Georgia’s secretary of state, Republican Brad Raffensperger, announced that the state’s pre-planned risk-limiting audit would be conducted for the presidential race and that because the margin between President-elect Joe Biden and President Donald Trump is so slim, every one of the nearly 5 million ballots cast in the race would be included in the audit. In effect, the secretary ordered a manual hand recount, since audits are conducted by hand, not by machine.
Abrams on Thursday also responded to that news, saying it was certain Joe Biden had won the state.
“We don’t know how long it’s going to take, but we are absolutely certain that this lead is insurmountable,” she said. “It is absolute. And Joe Biden won Georgia.”
“During my election in 2018, we fought through the courts to make sure every vote got counted,” Abrams added. “Sadly they just want to do a recount of what we already accomplished and I wish them well, but we know that Joe Biden is going to be, not only the president of the United States, but the first president in 30 years from the Democratic party to carry Georgia.”
She would not discuss a possible position within the Biden administration, saying Biden is “going to put together the team that makes the most sense for him.”
“We did this work to ensure the election of Joe Biden because we trust that he knows how to lead,” Abrams added. “And I’ll leave it to him to decide who he needs in partnership to get this work done.”
Both of the state’s Senate races have advanced to a runoff election, which will be held on Jan. 5. No candidate in the 20-candidate “jungle primary” special Senate race was expected to secure a majority of the votes, but in the regular Senate race, Democrat Jon Ossoff and the Libertarian candidate were able to keep Republican Sen. David Perdue under the 50% threshold he needed to avoid a second election.
Now, who controls the Senate will be decided by these races. If Ossoff wins against Perdue and Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock defeats Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, Democrats will hold 50 seats in Congress’ upper chamber, which means that with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote, they will have the majority. But Democrats have historically done poorly in statewide runoffs, and if they lose just one of these seats, Republicans will retain control in the Senate.
On the two Senate races, Abrams said that Democrats need to approach them differently than they have approached Georgia runoffs in the past.
“We need to reconsider this election not as a past runoff for Georgia Senate, but as the Doug Jones of 2020, where we know that the essential nature of this election changes the future of our country, protects health care, protects access to jobs and protects access to justice,” Abrams said, agreeing later in the interview that Republicans were trying to fire up their base for the runoffs by challenging the outcome of the presidential election.
“We need to remember that Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are the only ways that we can guarantee that Mitch McConnell will actually finally pass legislation to renew recovery investment, to help protect jobs for retail workers, for low wage workers who are suffering,” she added.
While Abrams has been critical of Georgia’s secretary of state in the past, she dismissed calls from Perdue and Loeffler for Raffensperger to resign.
“We know that there remain challenges with our election system, but none of those challenges are the ones that Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue are levying. They are arguing that they shouldn’t be in runoffs. They are arguing that the numbers should have been in their favor. That’s not how voting works,” Abrams said.
“It is the Republican party that has maintained this runoff system that is a vestige of Jim Crow, which was designed to keep Black votes from counting effectively in deciding the outcome of elections,” she added. “So if they want to grapple with this issue in 2021, they can remove the runoff system, but until then, this is the law of Georgia, and they’ve got to deal with it.”
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