Democrat Stacey Abrams on Friday ended her efforts to become Georgia’s next governor, but used her final speech on the contest to bitterly complain about voter suppression in the state.
Abrams, who received heavy backing from Hollywood in her bid to become the nation’s first black female governor, detailed a litany of voter issues. She said citizens who tried to vote were denied their constitutional rights because polling places were understaffed, shut down, and were mismanaged. “Democracy failed in Georgia,” she said.
She also rebuked the “rotten and rigged” election process, alleging “systemic disenfranchisement” at the hands of her opponent, Republican Brian Kemp, who was also the state’s chief elections administrator.
She added, “So let’s be clear, this is not a speech of concession because concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true or proper. As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede that.”
Today’s speech came after a ten-day legal battle in the tight race and the results were certified by the state’s chief elections official, with Kemp leading Abrams 50.2 percent to 48.8 percent — or by about 55,000 votes — with 99 percent of the vote counted.
In her Friday speech, Abrams said Kemp “was deliberate and intentional in his actions” while overseeing the state’s election system. She vowed that the botched processes will be remedied and criticized those who would claim her complaints about it were sour grapes, rejecting their calls for conciliation.
“Pundits and hyper-partisans will hear my words as a rejection of the normal order,” Abrams said. “You see, I’m supposed to say nice things and accept my fate. They will complain that I should not use this moment to recap what was done wrong or to demand a remedy.”
An Associated Press investigation last month claimed that Kemp’s office had 53,000 voter registration applicants still pending, 70 percent of whom were African-American. Civil rights groups, including one founded by Abrams, sued Kemp alleging that the practice was discriminatory because African-Americans make up 32 percent of Georgia’s population.