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Abrams touches on new documentary, calls voter suppression 'intentional'

Voting rights activist and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (D) is featured in “All In: The Fight for Democracy,” a new documentary released Wednesday that chronicles the history of voter suppression in the U.S. with Election Day less than 60 days away.

Abrams, who created voting rights nonprofit Fair Fight in 2018, reiterated on Thursday that voter suppression is “real, visceral and mean, but not new.”

“On the local level, we have good people doing the best they can as election administrators, but they need help ... It'll be harder to ensure that we have the kind of safety features that we need,” Abrams told TODAY host Sheinelle Jones. “But we shouldn't panic. We know that we can hold elections. We held elections during the Spanish flu. We held elections during the civil war. We can do it in 2020.”

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The use of mail voting is expected to spike this November due to the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, many states have relaxed their restrictions on mail-in or absentee voting. Over 40 states now allow their residents to request an absentee ballot without an excuse.

The expansion has largely been opposed by Republicans, including President TrumpDonald John TrumpNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter DC correspondent on the death of Michael Reinoehl: 'The folks I know in law enforcement are extremely angry about it' Late night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study MORE and his allies. Trump has pointed to the risk of large scale voter fraud, though there has been no indication that voter fraud — an exceedingly rare occurrence in American elections — will increase come November.

On Tuesday, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) said that 1,000 people voted twice in the state’s June primary election, a claim that has been met with skepticism by Abrams and election experts.

“That number seems extraordinarily high relative to other recent statewide elections,” Ned Foley, a law professor at Ohio State University who has written extensively about voter fraud, told The Hill.

Abrams described Raffensperger’s comments as a “part of a national effort by Republicans to dissuade voters to vote by mail.”

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“There is an intentional effort around the country to undermine the utility of vote by mail, but we know that vote by mail works,” Abrams added. “Democracy is a sacred right in the United States. It’s how we pick our leaders, it’s how we determine our futures, and regardless of your parties, regardless of your demography, you are entitled as a U.S. citizen to be heard.”

Georgia is one of a handful of states that Democratic lawmakers have expressed concern over as Election Day nears.

In a memo Wednesday, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis listed “serious” concerns around the ability of Georgia, Florida, Texas and Wisconsin to hold safe and secure elections amid the pandemic.

The subcommittee noted that Raffesnberger has indicated that the state currently only has 5,000 potential poll workers, although it is estimated that the Peach State will need 20,000.

“A shortage of poll workers in Georgia could lead to polling place closures similar to those voters faced during the state’s primary,” the subcommittee wrote, citing long lines faced by Georgia voters during the June primaries. “State election officials should work with Georgia counties to ensure that they have the poll workers they need, especially for counties with survey responses indicating shortages.”