Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams on Wednesday criticized President Donald Trump's dismissal of efforts to guard voters’ voices during the coronavirus pandemic, saying steps to protect the 2020 election should not be viewed through a partisan lens.
Abrams was responding to Trump’s criticisms of efforts by House Democrats to send $400 million to states to safeguard their elections during the health crisis. Trump told "Fox & Friends" on Monday that “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again” with such measures.
“It is a deeply troubling sign that the president of the United States wishes for active eligible voters to not have a chance for their voices to be heard,” Abrams said during a virtual National Press Club newsmaker discussion.
Holding elections during a pandemic will take more resources and changes, Abrams argued. She said the House bill should have gone further, offering up to $2 billion to support vote-by-mail and efforts to stop potential foreign interference in the 2020 election.
“This is not an opportunity to game the system as Trump says. It is an opportunity for a democracy to respond to the needs of its people,” Abrams said.
Separately, Abrams called it “essential” to have a woman candidate as vice president, as former Vice President Joe Biden has pledged for his running mate.
Abrams said she was “very pleased to have my name included in the conversation” as a pick.
Wednesday’s event marked Census Day, the reference day for 2020 census operations and kickoff for many planned outreach events. Abrams, the founder of Fair Count, which works to encourage census participation in Georgia, said she and other organizations have had to shift their planned operations online.
In the meantime the Census Bureau has done the best it can, Abrams said, despite Trump’s pursuit of adding a citizenship question to the form and a chronic lack of funding for the agency.
“Unfortunately they have been hamstrung by an administration that did not see the census as an opportunity to bring the country together,” Abrams said.