Stacey Abrams says new voting bills ‘should be concerning to everyone’

The Nobel Peace Prize nominee and author of “While Justice Sleeps” discusses the new voting laws in multiple states and talks about her novel.
10:51 | 05/11/21

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Transcript for Stacey Abrams says new voting bills ‘should be concerning to everyone’
Would you please explain to people why it is so important that we all pay attention to what's happening with our voting rights, and explain what they can do about it and why it affects them whether they're left, right, or center. Thank you so much, whoopi, and thank you all for having me we have to remember that the right to vote is separate from partisanship. The right to vote is about our citizenship, and regardless of who the targets of these egregious bills are, the result will be a weakening of our democracy, and we're seeing that happen in Texas, in Florida, in Georgia, but also in Iowa and around the country. When we see political leaders who are resting power away from local elections officials in order to overturn their decisions in the future, when we see the response to increased participation by communities of color result in decrease in access, when we see states in unison pushing laws that respond to not the reality of the 2020 election, but to the lie told about that very election, then our democracy is in danger. I, you know, it's up to each individual how you vote when you get in the booth. My mission is to ensure that no one is precluded from voting or impeded in their attempt to vote because of the power grab that's being exercised by the Republicans. It was done by the federalists and Democrats. Any time a party in power feels their best way to win is by constricting the vote, we are all in danger. Go to, and we give you an opportunity to lift your voice because it's working. These bills are moving, but they are getting weaker and weaker and we can push for federal action that will make our democracy stronger. Yes. It's very dangerous what's going on right now. This comes down to Republicans needing to back trump's big lie that the election was stolen. It's the same reason congresswoman Liz Cheney's going to be ousted as GOP conference chair tomorrow. Senator Lindsey graham says the Republican party can't grow without trump. Is he right? Is he right? Why are they clinging to the cult of trump, may I ask? He's a loser. I think the attention to Donald Trump is a symptom. It is not however the disease. The symptom is that he found a shortcut to leadership. He found a shortcut to actually doing the work, and he decided that the only way to win was not by adapting to the populous he was to deserve, but to remove voters he found inconvenient. That's what the insurrection on January 6th was about, and the fact we're watching the Republican party, one of the two standard bearers for our democracy rest their hopes on success by removing their own people from leadership rather than listening and adapting and internalizing what should be a natural belief in the united States, that every vote counts and that no voter should be impeded from being able to cast an eligible ballot. That should be deeply concerning to people of all parties. Yeah. You know, last month during a hearing on voting rights, senator Kennedy grilled you on the details of Georgia's voting bill in a puzzling exchange really that went viral. Let's take a look. Tell me specifically -- just give me a list of the provisions that you object to. I pled to the provision that is remove access to the right to vote that shorten the runoff period from nine weeks to four weeks and restrict the time that a voter can request or return an absentee ballot application. Slow down for me because our audio is not real good here. Sorry. Could you start over for me? Certainly. Is that everything? No, it is not. No, sir. It limits the -- Okay. I get the idea. I get the idea. Now you have been nominated for a Nobel peace prize for your work in this specific area. You're an expert in this area, so given that, what did you make of Kennedy's line of questioning, and what was going through your mind? I just didn't understand what was going on. I served in the Georgia general assembly for 11 years. That line of approach is not unusual, and it's usually designed to throw the speaker off to demonstrate the lack of content or to just filibuster time, be but my approach is always to educate. I would presume that anybody asking a question legitimately wants the answer, and the challenge with these laws is that this isn't about the reductive notion of whether or not you have to have an identification or the reductive question of whether you can have water in line. It's about the fundamental question of who is permitted unfettered access to the right to vote, and who is impeded based on how they vote or the perceptions of which communities are inconvenient to the Republican party in this moment. No matter who we are, we know that this is affecting communities of color. It's affecting young people, and it's affecting the disabled. It will affect elderly people in the states requiring new identification. We know that this is a reduction of the same behavior we have seen time and again in this country, and we are blocking power to be shifted in kwhunts that are found to be inconvenient, and the party in power shuts down access, and that should be important to who we are. This is not a partisanship conversation. This is a citizenship conversation, a citizenship fight, and we need to say yes to the voting rights provisions and the John Lewis voting rights advancement act. Even though I agree that this Georgia bill is founded on false claims of election fraud, some fact checkers have pointed out that the bill will actually expand the number of in-person early voting days in the state. In fact, Georgia has far more early voting days than democratic states like new Jersey, Delaware, and "The new York Times" said the voting provisions are unlikely to significantly affect turnout, and it could increase turnout. But what's missing from that argument in your opinion? There are two parts to this. One is that yes, Georgia has early voting hours and we have early voting access. The problem is that the Republicans responded to the usage by restricting that usage for a larger portion of the population. Yes, for 40% of Georgians who did not enjoy full access, they've expanded and that's good, but at the same time, they restricted access for others. They restricted the hours, and this is a debate we're having with "The Washington post" fact checkers in part because their argument is that only the facial language in the bill counts, and we have to look at the actual performance and behavior, and so it's not enough to say that the law is what's on paper. The law is also how people interact with it. That's why we change laws, and what is changing is that these laws were used successfully by voters that are found to be inconvenient, and restrictions are being put in place. The second reality is that for so many voters, there are already hurdles that they have to cross, and adding additional hurdles is incontrovertibly wrong. We know there are states that need to do better. That's why I'm also a fan of the for the people act. The quality of our democracy shouldn't depend on our geography, but more than anything, any state that starts ore strict access because they found too many people voted, that should be deeply problematic and chilling to anyone, and this is something that the Republican lieutenant governor said. This is a solution in search of a problem, and it is designed purely for the power grab that we are seeing play out across this country, and that should be concerning to everyone. So don't go anywhere, Stacey. We got more questions. We'll be right back. Absolutely. We're for those who love to discover. Who know an open mind is the only kind. Who don't need to travel to find something new. Who know where to escape, even just for a moment. Who don't need a fortune to find a gem. And who know when you spend less, you can discover even more. And never, ever stop discovering. Spend less. Discover more. At T.J. Maxx and Marshalls. (Drill Sergeant) What a pleasant morning. (Private) Why's he so happy? 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