Stacey Abrams, other candidates stump in downtown Athens, encourages early voting

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By Nikolai Mather

Athens Banner-Herald

Image Credit: Joshua L. Jones, USA TODAY NETWORK


October 20, 2022

Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams on Wednesday made a campaign stop in downtown Athens alongside several other Democrats running for office this year.

The rally drew about 200 supporters, most of them students at the University of Georgia. In addition to Abrams, speakers included candidates Janice Laws Robinson, Nakita Hemingway and Bee Nguyen. 

 

On voting rights

All four candidates spoke at length about the state of voting rights in Georgia. Nguyen, who is running for secretary of state, criticized Republican legislators' passage of SB 202, which imposed tighter restrictions on absentee voting and dropbox availability, and banned offering food or water to voters waiting in line.

"They said we're gonna pass a 98-page bill predicated on lies to make it harder for Georgians to vote," she said.

 

In her speech, Abrams alluded to her first campaign for governor in 2018. The historic election was Georgia's closest gubernatorial race in decades and saw record turnout. Though Abrams has acknowledged Kemp, then secretary of state, as the legal victor, she has maintained that the election was unfair. 

 

"We learned that 50,000 people had been hassled, that they had their right to vote held hostage by the secretary of state. We learned that 214 precincts had been shut down. And later, an independent analysis would tell us that 85,000 Georgians could not cast the ballot in 2018," she said.

On the issues

Candidates addressed a number of topics in their speeches. Robinson, who is running for insurance Commissioner, discussed the 2019 investigation of former commissioner Jim Beck, who was later convicted of fraud and money laundering. Robinson ran against Beck in 2018.

 

"I'm running again because the last insurance commissioner? That one went to jail," she said. "The insurance commissioner we have was appointed and he's been sleeping at the wheel."

 

Hemingway, who is running for commissioner of agriculture, touched on the importance of women's leadership in her stump speech.

 

"So since I've been on the campaign trail, and people found out that I've been running for this seat, the question I get is: Are you serious? Are you a farmer?" said Hemingway. "Fifty-two percent of the farmers in the world are women. But we occupy less than 1% of leadership positions. It's time for change."

 

Nguyen discussed the harassment she faced after contesting then-President Donald Trump's claims that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen.

"When I stood up for the Georgians who had been wrongly accused of voter fraud, they put my address on a right wing gun site, and they called me a traitor and they called for my execution," she said. 

 

Early voting

Early voting in Georgia opened on Monday. In the first two days, election officials had tallied nearly 300,000 ballots cast. 

Candidates called the numbers record-breaking, and encouraged supporters to continue voting early. 

 

"Make sure that you let everybody know. I don't care if you got a call your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend saying, 'Hey, you might not have heard from me in the past 15 years, but I need you to show up and vote,'" said Hemingway.