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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Stacey Abrams owes the people of Georgia an apology, and she can start by helping to clean up the mess she made with her lies about the recently-passed Election Integrity Act.

Specifically, she should announce her full support for a lawsuit recently filed by the Job Creators Network, which is seeking to compel Major League Baseball to either restore the 2021 All-Star Game to Atlanta or compensate the people of Atlanta for the estimated $100 million that they’re losing because of the League’s last-minute decision to move the game to Denver, Colorado. Ms. Abrams was the one who inspired the switch, and she should be doing everything she can to undo the damage.


The Election Integrity Act was carefully crafted to make it easy to vote but hard to cheat. In her eagerness to raise her own political profile, however, Ms. Abrams branded it “Jim Crow 2.0” and characterized it as a “voter suppression” effort targeting minorities.

That’s complete hogwash. Jim Crow laws directly disenfranchised Black voters; the Election Integrity Act only seeks to disenfranchise fraudsters — regardless of their race.

Now that the Election Integrity Act has been signed into law, voting is easier in Georgia than it is in many blue states, including New York and Delaware. The new law preserves early voting, and even makes it possible to vote early on nights and weekends. It also explicitly authorizes ballot drop boxes, which never existed before the coronavirus pandemic.

Ms. Abrams has attacked the law’s voter ID requirement, arguing that it’s unfair to voters who do not possess a state-issued ID, but she neglects to mention that the law allows those individuals to use alternative documentation, such as utility bills, in place of a driver’s license or ID card. She also ignores the fact that ID is already required for any number of normal, everyday activities, from purchasing tobacco and alcohol to boarding a plane and renting a car. The implication is as subtle as a 2X4 to the head — she’s saying Black people are uniquely incapable of something as basic as obtaining identification.

Unfortunately, some people failed to see through Ms. Abrams’ lies. Corporate executives at Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola, notably, fell for her “Jim Crow” rhetoric and issued denunciations of the Election Integrity Act. Soon after, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that the MLB would be moving the 2021 All-Star Game in a misguided effort to “demonstrate our values as a sport” — whatever that’s supposed to mean.

The MLB’s decision was ostensibly intended to send a message to state lawmakers, but the only people who will really be hurt are small businesses and their employees in the Atlanta area, who had been counting on the All-Star Game to generate a major boost to the local economy. According to the Cobb County Travel and Tourism Bureau, missing out on the All-Star Game will cost local businesses at least $100 million in lost revenue.

That figure might even be an understatement, in fact, because it’s difficult to quantify the amount that bartenders, servers, and other service industry employees will lose in tips. Losing those tips is a huge deal to people who have been hit even harder than most by pandemic-related restrictions. None of them had anything to do with the Election Integrity Act, but they’re the ones who will have to pay the price for the MLB’s vindictiveness and Stacey Abrams’ deceitful grandstanding.

There’s still hope, though. The MLB only spent a few days deciding to move the All-Star Game from majority-Black Atlanta to Denver, where only about 10 percent of residents are Black. There’s no reason the League couldn’t reverse that decision just as quickly. Atlanta spent months preparing to host the All-Star Game, and could easily accommodate it — arguably, the city is still in a better position to do so than Denver, which has had only a few weeks to prepare.

Stacey Abrams has expressed misgivings about her role in fomenting boycotts of her home state, and now she has a perfect opportunity to start making amends. As the person more responsible for the loss of the All-Star Game than anyone, the decent thing for her to do would be to retract her smears and publicly beg the MLB to reconsider. If that doesn’t work, she should throw her support behind a lawsuit that is seeking to compel the MLB to restore the All-Star Game to Atlanta.

If Stacey Abrams doesn’t take immediate action to undo the damage her lies have done to the people of Georgia, she’ll forever be known as the person who threw her own neighbors under the bus in pursuit of personal political gain.

• Rob Smith is an Iraq War veteran and political analyst who is a contributor for Turning Point USA, an advocacy group for young conservatives. Find him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @RobSmithOnline. He is the author of “Always a Soldier: Service, Sacrifice, and Coming Out as America’s Favorite Black, Gay Republican”


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