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Stacey Abrams Goes Viral with Her Criticisms of Georgia’s New Elections Law

Sean Neumann
·4 min read

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Stacey Abrams

Stacey Abrams came ready.

When Republican Sen. John Kennedy asked Abrams during a hearing on Tuesday to "give me a list" of things with which she disagrees in Georgia's new election law, the politician-turned-prominent voting rights activist listed off her concerns.

The back and forth has since been seen by millions of people on social media.

"Stacey Abrams knows her facts," tweeted longtime news anchor Dan Rather.

"Do. Not. Come. For. Stacey. Abrams," Rescue Me star Steven Pasquale tweeted.

That interest underscores how the sweeping new law in Georgia became a national political flashpoint, even as its supporters and critics point to different provisions in it to argue it is misinterpreted.

The Senate Judiciary Committee had convened the hearing on voting rights as Democrats, who have narrow control of Congress, hope to build a case for the need for new federal voting legislation.

On Tuesday, Abrams, 47, said certain parts of the approximately 100-page law passed in Georgia makes voting more difficult for minority voters.

For example, she said, the law shortens periods in which people can request and send in mail ballots and will require voters to show ID when voting absentee. The law also potentially allows some precincts to schedule voting periods during the workday and restricts when voters can cast provisional ballots if they end up at the wrong precinct.

Most notoriously, the law criminalizes the passing out of food and water to voters in line, though poll workers could still set up water stations.

"Okay, what else? Is that everything?" Kennedy, 69, asked, drawing a small laugh out of Abrams, who kept going.

RELATED: Black Panther Director Says Sequel Will Film in Georgia, Commits to Help Overturn 'Harmful' Voting Law

Sen. John Kennedy

"No, it is not," she said, listing off more issues she has with the bill, portions of which she told lawmakers were racist and intended to depress minority voters in future elections, after a historic 2020 turnout that helped swing the long-held Republican state blue.

Kennedy finally interrupted her again.

"I get the idea" he said, holding his hand up to stop Abrams.

Georgia's election overhaul, passed last month by the Republican-led legislature, has drawn rebuke not just from Democratic lawmakers and civil rights advocates but also major brands and the MLB, who moved the 2021 All-Star Game.

Republicans like Gov. Brian Kemp argue the legislation makes future elections "more secure" — though experts say there is no widespread fraud — and the legislation's scope goes well beyond ballots into some changes being welcomed by officials.

Among other reforms, the law's supporters note, it will expand early voting in much of the state and crack down on precincts with unacceptably long lines. Officials will also be able to being processing mail ballots earlier.

The state legislature and the State Election Board will also have some enhanced authority over county elections officials — something supporters say will help with poorly run races though critics say it raises at least the specter of a political party rejecting a county's results.

The push to overhaul the state's elections came after Donald Trump spent months pushing for officials — including those in Georgia, where he narrowly lost — to somehow reverse the results and declare him the winner on the basis of alleged wrongdoing.

Melina Mara/Getty Images Polling location in Georgia

RELATED: MLB Pulls This Year's All-Star Game from Georgia in Response to Voting Law

Critics note that the bill's most restrictive measures target expanded forms of voting. The law eliminates two mobile voting sites the state used in last year to help speed up long lines and it will limit the number of absentee voting ballot boxes to one box per 100,000 voters.

The New York Times reports that the new rule means Georgia's four most populous counties — Fulton, Cobb, DeKalb and Gwinnett, which make up the Atlanta area — will see ballot boxes decrease from 94 to 23 by the next general election, in 2022.

Earlier this week during congressional hearings, Abrams told lawmakers that the "intent" of the new bill is also what matters, according to The Hill.

"The state of Georgia targeted communities that used these resources for the first time to their benefit," she said.

As Abrams told PEOPLE earlier this year, after her work on voting rights catapulted her into the spotlight: "It isn't my job to ensure that one political ideology is dominant. It is my job to solve the problems that people face."

"Democracy," she said, "is how we ingest and make new who we can be."