Ufot first met Abrams at a New Year’s brunch in 2014 after returning to Georgia from stints in the energy industry and a teachers’ union in Canada. She was impressed with Abrams’ stats squad, but skeptical that her plan to transform the electorate would work. Then, however, “she told me that there were over a million Georgians of color, mostly black Georgians, who were eligible to vote and were completely unregistered,” said Ufot. “And that made me sit up and stop eating my eggs.”
A few days before we spoke, the Georgian Secretary of State had resumed investigating the New Georgia Project for violations of the electoral law. Brad Raffensperger, the current Secretary of State, had opened a case relating to the organization and three other electoral registration groups that he accused of violating the electoral law by “repeatedly and aggressively” calling ineligible, extra-state and dead voters in front of the drain . Raffensperger reached out to reporters at the state capitol and said his office had received several complaints about the New Georgia campaign requiring supporters to write postcards to people in the state to encourage them to register and vote. “Here’s something that came into our house yesterday,” he said, holding up three postcard mailers from New Georgia. “It’s my son, Brenton J. Raffensperger, who died two years ago.”
Ufot insisted that their group had only sent postcards to volunteers who expressed an interest in sending letters to eligible voters in Georgia asking them to vote. A package of the postcards was sent to the wrong New York address, she said, and the mailings sent to Raffensperger’s late son were a mistake based on publicly available government data. “We have regular business with the foreign minister and her investigators and all of her office,” she said. “Nobody contacted us, nobody contacted our lawyers.”
Ufot also pointed to the political context: Raffensperger, a Republican, was involved in a public spit with President Trump, who continued to make false claims of major electoral fraud in Georgia and retweeted calls for Raffensperger and Kemp to be arrested. Both Loeffler and Perdue called on Raffensperger to resign and declared the administration of the elections “an embarrassment for our state”. Raffensperger claimed the Republicans lost the election fair. “They have been revised,” he later said on an online forum hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center. Raffensperger has been bullied by members of his own political party, Ufot said, “but what you can’t do is harass our civil rights organizations and voting groups to restore your republican faith.” (Kemp’s office did not respond to requests for comment.)
Meanwhile, a number of legal disputes arose in the run-up to the elections, again largely centered around who can vote. A judge dismissed a complaint by several electoral groups, including Black Voters Matter, and asked Georgia to restore nearly 200,000 voters who had been removed from the lists due to address changes. Three Republican-led groups at the federal and state levels, including Perdue and Loeffler, pressed for postal votes to be restricted. Two were fired; The third lawsuit seeks to limit the use of ballot boxes to business hours. [Dec. 29, 2020: The third of the suits was settled after the print version of this article went to press.]
Ufot had set itself the goal of registering 10,000 voters before the December 7 runoff election and reached out to the army of volunteers it assembled, 4,500 of whom had worked during the general election to do so. There were toy and food rides in College Park and Columbus, literary deliveries and acquisitions in Athens, and a bicycle rally in Atlanta. By the deadline they had managed around 7,000 registrations.
In the past, runoff elections have favored Republican candidates. The wave that got Biden into office, converted into real numbers, was only about 12,000 votes, an amount that a runoff election could easily lose. Nevertheless, Ufot is hoping for a high turnout. About a third of early and absent voters whose races were known were black, compared with 27 percent in the general election. This number is slightly higher than the number of blacks who voted at the start of the general election. Older voters who are Conservative made up about 37 percent of early runoff voters, according to Georgiavotes, a polling website. Between October 5th, the registration deadline for the general election and December 5th for the runoff election, Almost 76,000 new voters have registered, according to the Atlanta Journal constitution.