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The Party Has Only Just Begun, "Stacy Abrams Heats Things Up"

On Election Day, Liz Garbus was answering the phones on a voter protection hotline in South Carolina, fielding call after call from voters who had been turned away at the polls there, or who had received mailers telling them to vote in the wrong place. The experience disturbingly mirrored the story Garbus and her co-director, Lisa Cortés, tell in their recent documentary, All In: The Fight for Democracy, which was produced by former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and traces her experience of voter suppression during the 2018 election there. “Answering the hotline in South Carolina was essentially like watching the slow-motion train wreck that we depicted in our film, with problems for low information voters, problems in majority Black and brown counties,” Garbus says. “It was truly heartbreaking to watch it happen.”

When Garbus and Cortés, whose movie premiered on Amazon Prime on Sept. 18, speak by phone Wednesday, the election is still undecided, but news organizations are calling Wisconsin and Michigan for Joe Biden, Georgia is still in play and the Democratic nominee appears to have the clearest path to victory. The filmmakers have just spent 18 months immersed in the story of voter suppression — and Abrams’ efforts to overcome the problem — and they are processing the role the issue may be having in the outcome of the 2020 race. “I'm nervous as all fuck, but I'm just trying to stay hopeful,” Cortés says, of her post-election mindset. 

Garbus has been texting with Abrams’ chief strategist, Chelsey Hall, who is putting out the word to get Georgians to check that their ballots have been received. “Stacey's message over this past couple of weeks was, ‘If it's taking a long time, that means the process is working. They're counting the votes. That's what they need to be doing. Don't panic. Buckle in,’” says Garbus, who spent election night at home in Brooklyn watching returns with her family over pasta. “Of course, as soon as I started watching the Florida map last night, that all went out the window.” According to Garbus, Hall told her: “Black and brown Georgians will not believe anything is over until Stacey Abrams says it's over.”


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