How the Democrats plan to win the 2022 Midterms in Georgia

Grassroots groups have helped turn once reliably red Georgia into a battlefield over the past two election cycles. Now Democrats are hoping they — and the multiracial coalition they have assembled — can pull off another miracle in 2022.

Groups like voter registration group New Georgia Project and Black Voters Matter have been working for years, some for more than a decade, to mobilize political power among black voters and other voters of color in the state. These minority voters make up 40 percent of the electorate but have historically been neglected by both parties. Grassroots groups have long struggled to attract investment from funders and campaigners, many of whom believed their efforts were in vain.

In 2018, her years of work paid off when Democrat Stacey Abrams ran for governor, rewriting the Democrats’ playbook with a narrow loss that was largely borne by nonwhite voters. The organization modeled on Abrams’ run helped Joe Biden turn the state over in 2020 by a margin of less than 12,000 votes, a crucial win on his road to the presidency. And it helped Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock to surprise victories in their US Senate races, handing the party narrow control of Congress.

With Abrams’ second campaign for governor against incumbent Republican Governor Brian Kemp, as well as Warnock’s re-election — and Democrats’ prospects of retaining control of the Senate — Democrats and their grassroots allies are hoping to once again make their way to the organize victory.

Inspired by the crucial role grassroots groups have played in turning Georgia purple, national Democrats last month launched their largest-ever nationally coordinated midterm election campaign.

The Georgia Votes campaign — a joint initiative of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Democratic National Committee, and the Georgia Democrats — aims to revitalize the multi-ethnic coalition formed by grassroots groups in 2020, although that’s not directly the case Assisting or coordinating with these groups in accordance with campaign laws.

Grassroots groups in Georgia are also in full swing to ensure black voter enthusiasm stays high this fall and isn’t stifled by the state’s new voting restrictions; They provide education, extra electoral support and defenses against the cleansing of the electoral rolls.

“There are incredible local organizations that have been working hard to win over Georgia voters for years, and our state is better off. As [the Democratic Party of Georgia] As we expand our coordinated campaign to mobilize voters across the state this cycle, we are grateful to all organizers working to ensure every Georgian’s voice is heard in our democracy,” said Rep. Nikema Williams, Chair of the Georgia Democratic Party.

The party faces stronger national headwinds this time, including an unpopular Democratic president and high inflation. But grassroots groups are confident that these factors can be overcome in Georgia. They say they have been chasing what many have seen as unlikely political outcomes for years.

“We did this work behind enemy lines. Since we started in 2014, this has been a high-stakes fight for Georgia’s future,” said Nsé Ufot, Chief Executive Officer of the New Georgia Project.

Grassroots groups are fighting against the restrictive electoral laws in Georgia

The biggest concern in 2022 for Georgia Democrats and grassroots groups was how to mitigate the adverse effects of SB 202, a law signed by Kemp in March 2021 that introduced new voting restrictions, including limits on absentee voting and stricter ID requirements, a ban the provision of food and water to voters waiting in line; and measures that would shift power from state and local election officials to the legislature.

As Vox’s Zack Beauchamp wrote at the time, “The intent of the bill is clear: to wrest a state that is increasingly blue-leaning toward Republican.”

In the November 2021 local elections, the first campaigns under the new law, the rejection rate for mail-in ballot applications rose to 4 per cent, up from less than 1 per cent in the 2020 general election. More than half of these rejected applications were rejected because under the new, earlier SB 202 deadline, and the majority of those constituents never voted in person instead. Another 15 percent of denied applications were denied because they contained missing or incorrect identification information required under the new law.

It’s not yet clear how the Democrats’ Georgia Votes initiative — which is only a few weeks old — plans to respond to SB 202. However, grassroots groups have stepped up efforts to educate voters on relevant deadlines and the requirements of the new electoral law this year. According to the group’s communications director, Xakota Espinoza, Fair Fight has been double-checking voter registrations and the locations of their constituencies, urging as many people as possible to vote early and in person amid problems with mail-in ballot rejection.

But this extra training puts an extra burden on groups who are also trying to motivate people to get involved.

“Not everyone we are talking to is ready to participate in the process. That conversation gets harder when you have to spend more time explaining just a few things about the process,” said Cliff Albright, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, a voter mobilization group in Georgia.

Grassroots groups also lent their support to the elections. During last month’s primary election, the Georgia Latino Community Fund dispatched volunteers to 10 counties in Chatham, Cobb, Gwinnett, Fulton and DeKalb counties that have large Hispanic populations to provide Spanish translations. But in Chatham County, survey managers have turned away some of their volunteers, said Michelle Zuluaga, the organization’s civic participation manager. Black Voters Matter have set up tables with refreshments near polling stations as the new law bans them from handing out food and drinks to people waiting.

Despite the additional hurdles SB 202 presents, overall turnout for the May 24 primary was high, especially considering it is a mid-election year. Official Election Day numbers aren’t definitive, but a record 857,000 people voted early, up from 299,000 in the 2018 primary. That includes about 483,000 Republicans and 369,000 Democrats.

Republicans have argued that this is evidence that SB 202 is not actually suppressing voting, as Georgia’s grassroots groups and Democrats have claimed.

But grassroots organizations say their diligent efforts to register and mobilize voters have resulted in high turnout despite the obstacles created by SB 202. said Ufot.

The challenges before the general election

The high-profile showdown between Abrams and Kemp that control of the Senate is again at stake, and voter registration and grassroots outreach could ensure high turnout in the fall. Democrats fear complications from SB 202 could worsen. Grassroots groups are therefore putting a new focus on voter protection in the coming months. And while the Democratic Party has its own plans to combat voter suppression, grassroots groups don’t plan to rely solely on it.

The New Georgia Project is preparing to fight back against what is likely to escalate attempts to erase voter rolls under SB 202, which allow any person to challenge the voter registrations of an unlimited number of voters at once. For example, earlier this year the group successfully repelled a challenge to the eligibility of 13,000 voters by a lone man in Forsyth County.

The group also works with legal aid organizations to train lawyers specializing in criminal and electoral law to defend voters accused of fraud. SB 202 created several new election crimes, including making it a crime to witness someone else mark their absentee ballot at home unless they provide legally authorized assistance, and the state legislature enacted one in April Law allowing state police to investigate election crimes and voter fraud.

“We know we have some eager prosecutors in the state who will absolutely take advantage of this and try to prosecute Georgians under these new laws,” Ufot said.

But beyond protecting voters, they’re just trying to keep Georgia’s enthusiasm going through November. That means continuing to speak out on the issues that matter to Georgians, including the current economic turmoil, which is being felt acutely among workers who earn the state minimum wage of just $5.15; Georgia’s failure to expand its Medicaid program, leaving about half a million people ineligible for health insurance coverage; and the threat to free and fair elections posed by former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the state’s 2020 election results.

Reproductive rights have also become a landmark issue since the US Supreme Court’s draft Opinion, which set its 1973 precedent in Roe v. Wade picked up that was leaked to Politico. Georgia already has the highest maternal mortality rate in the country — a rate that’s even higher, especially for black women.

Activists are not alone in these campaigns of election protection and persuasion. The coordinated campaign of state and national Democrats is working to train and organize volunteers to help get the vote and engage Georgians, especially communities of colour, ahead of the November election. They have also put together a voter protection team to plan this combat voter repression.

However, not all grassroots supporters feel they can count on national Democrats to do the job of communicating this election’s stakes. With years of experience in the state, many feel uniquely equipped to drive voters to the polls in November.

“At the national level, there needs to be some messaging support,” Albright said. “But we cannot rely on them to get the message across properly. So we do our own messaging.”