Breaking News
More () »

Atlanta's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Atlanta, Georgia | 11alive.com

Months after election, Stacey Abrams continues political visibility

Speculation swirls that she may seek higher office, while she continues to seek statewide election reform.

ATLANTA — In the days leading up to the inauguration of Brian Kemp, Stacey Abrams has been at work with her new political action committee, Fair Fight Action.

She has been meeting with a number of newly elected and returning state lawmakers as part of the organization's stated mission to advocate for election reform within the state of Georgia.

Last Thursday, Abrams visited Washington to meet with Senate Democrats about a possible 2020 US Senate run for David Perdue's seat. According to multiple reports, Abrams visited with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

If Abrams does choose to run for Senate, she would find an already growing number of candidates who have announced or are considering running against Perdue. However, she would enter such a race with significant name recognition locally and nationally, as well as an opportunity to once again bring national attention to Georgia politics.

Speculation has increased that Abrams would run for the US Senate and that she might even consider a White House run, though she has remained very quiet about her political future -- choosing instead to focus on her Fair Fight Action organization and its activities surrounding voting rights in the state of Georgia.

Federal District Court Judge Amy Totenberg ruled in September 2018 that there is a concern regarding the integrity of Georgia's voting machines and their vulnerability to hacking.  She said that despite this, there was not enough time to force the state to convert to paper ballots prior to the November General Election.

RELATED | Paper ballots will not be used in the November election in Georgia

In her opinion, Totenberg said that she was advising the Defendants and the state to revisit the issue as quickly as possible. During a hearing prior to her decision, Totenberg expressed concern about the voting technology, saying, "It's not just a theoretical, paranoid notion" that the machines are vulnerable as federal officials repeatedly warn against nation-states directing their energies against American democratic institutions.

One provision of the judge's ruling mandated that the state would have to completely revamp its voting mechanism prior to the next election cycle.

Abrams has loudly criticized the Secure, Accessible & Fair Elections (SAFE) Commission, established by Governor-Elect Brian Kemp in April 2018, during his tenure as Secretary of State to study options for the state's new voting system.

On Thursday, the SAFE Commission voted to replace the state's current electronic voting machines with a computerized system which prints paper ballots. A large crowd of voters was present at the meeting who opposed the decision, saying that paper ballots that are filled out by hand would be a more secure and less expensive option.

RELATED | Hacking concerns surround recommendation to replace Georgia's outdated voting machines

The state's current voting system, in use since 2003, has been at the center of controversy, with charges of voter suppression and claims of a lack of election integrity.

As Secretary of State, Kemp purged more than a half-million voter registration records during 2016 and 2017. Of that number, more than 107,000 were targeted simply because they had missed a couple of elections or had not contacted election officials in seven years, as opposed to being disqualified. A couple of years ago, when they got wind of this practice, Common Cause filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit against Kemp's office.

RELATED | Is voter suppression happening in Georgia? Just ask disenfranchised voters

Before last Thursday's meeting, Abrams' organization criticized the SAFE Commission, calling it a "sham" group, saying it was putting vendors above voters. 

They said they had learned that Kemp's new Deputy Chief of Staff in the governor's office -- Charles Harper -- is a lobbyist for one of the vendors.

The final decision regarding the state's election system will be made by the General Assembly during the 2019 session, which gets underway on Monday.