After the candy was cleared away and neighborhoods were free of kids in costume, residents of suburban Georgia were still getting knocks on their doors. Those who answered were surprised to find Oprah Winfrey standing on their stoop, asking if they were going to vote.
The billionaire and prominent media figure visited Georgia to show support for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, and took to local neighborhoods between two scheduled appearances. "No one paid for me to come here," Winfrey told the audience at a rally in Marietta. "No one asked me to come here." She went on to state that she supported Abrams because of her ability to "keep standing strong for the values that matter to me, and the values that matter to Georgians all over this state."
Those values include expanding access to health care, increasing opportunities for affordable housing, and enacting common sense gun reform. After delivering her speech, Winfrey sat down with Abrams for a town hall discussion during which she and the audience were able to question the candidate about her policies.
Abrams and the Georgia governor's race has become one of the most closely followed midterm election in the country. If elected, Abrams will be the first female African American governor in U.S. history. That she's running in Georgia is not insignificant, as the state has the fourth highest population of African Americans in the country. Her opponent is GOP Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who has also grown to become a recognizable name out of state, in large part due to frequent and controversial developments of the contentious race.
The most recent scuffle surfaced when Kemp pulled out of a scheduled televised debate on Wednesday, only days before it was meant to be broadcast live the following Sunday, in order to appear at a rally with President Trump. Kemp's team offered to move the debate, which had been scheduled in September, to Monday at 7:30pm, just hours before polls are set to open. Kemp, Abrams, and Libertarian candidate Ted Metz were unable to come to an agreement on when to reschedule.
Last month, the Georgia State Election board received criticism for its "exact match" law, which requires all information on voter registration applications to match government documents exactly. For example, registrants can have their applications paused or rejected for including a middle initial on their driver's license and not on their voter registration application. Because of this law, 53,000 voter registration applications were considered "on hold" on October 9, Georgia's registration deadline; 70% of those voters are African American, and none of them were contacted about their registration status. As Secretary of State, Kemp and his office oversee the State Election Board and its exact match policy. While Kemp has claimed that the exact match policy is meant to combat voter fraud, Abrams maintains it is an effort to suppress and disenfranchise voters—particularly black voters.
In addition to praising Abrams's policies and poise during an acrimonious race, Winfrey emphasized the history of voter suppression in America, especially among southern African Americans. "I'm here today because of the men and because of the women who were lynched, who were humiliated, who were discriminated against, who were suppressed, who were repressed, and oppressed, for the right for equality at the polls," she said. "I refuse to let their sacrifices be in vain."
Rebecca Linde is a writer and cultural critic in NYC. She tweets about pop culture and television @rklinde.
POP⚡DUST | Read More...