For the first time in nearly 30 years voters in Georgia elected a Democratic presidential candidate and flipped the state blue. This is a testament to the work of Black women like Stacey Abrams and Nsé Ufot of the New Georgia Project who talked to voters about the issues and registered Black voters to combat voter suppression in the state. We reached this historic moment because of the Black women and organizers in Georgia who mobilized Black communities to build Black political power, and led over a million Black people to the ballot boxes in Georgia.

Honoring Black joy and recognizing the labor and determination that brought us this far is important. Now, we’re also gearing up for the next fight ahead because state and local races are crucial to holding national leaders accountable and funding public services that Black communities need to stay safe, housed and healthy. There are two Senate races on January 5th, 2021 that could pave the way for COVID-19 economic relief, expanded health care access, criminal justice reform — and so many more benefits for our communities that come with secure Democratic leadership in the Senate. 

Black people need and deserve a federal government that is capable of delivering more positive changes for Black people over the next four years than what has been delivered in the past. If we win both seats in Georgia, we have the power to make Vice President-elect Kamala Harris the tie-breaking vote in the Senate, and one of the most powerful Black women in history. To do so, we need to create history twice, and you know we need Black women to lead the charge.

Current Senator Kelly Loeffler has been vocal about not supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and spoke out against WNBA players who wanted to publicly speak out against police brutality and violence. Senator Loeffler, like current Senator David Perdue, downplayed COVID-19 from the start — instead of protecting their constituents, they profited from the pandemic as Black communities were being killed by the virus and forced to become essential workers to provide for their families. 

As two of Trump’s strongest allies, Senator Loeffler and Senator Perdue emulate his racist rhetoric and inaccurate election fraud claims. Their opposition to strengthening the Affordable Care Act, expanding medicaid, and protecting reproductive health care is a direct attack on Black communities that are low-income by leaving them with less health care options. 

This race is not about opposing policies on health care, it is a matter of life and death, and a determining factor for whether or not Black communities could have the economic relief to support themselves and loved ones during the pandemic that just saw an increase in coronavirus cases nationwide.

But it’s not just the Senate races we have to be on the lookout for; local and state election runoffs are on December 1, 2020 — including the next District Attorney for the Western Judicial Circuit. This race is vital for criminal justice reform in the state — District Attorneys have the power to decide who is prosecuted and determine the severity of prosecutions. They enact laws that can make our communities safer and are the decision-makers who hold police officers and elected officials accountable. 

A win for Georgia is a win for Black communities nationwide. It’s a clapback to the decades-long, coordinated effort to undo the voting rights of the Civil Rights era. That’s why we’ve endorsed Deborah Gonzalez for District Attorney alongside Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff for Senate — candidates who vocally support voting rights and actively fight against voter suppression in the state.

Georgia is ready for progressive change and Black Georgians will lead the way. Here are a few ways to vote and help win the Senate and local races in Georgia. 

Confirm your voter registration status. You do not need to have voted in the November 3rd general election to be eligible to vote in the December 1st or January 5th runoff elections, however you must be a registered voter to participate.

Register to vote if you turn 18 by January 5th! The voter registration deadline for the December 1st runoff has already passed. If you haven’t already, register to vote by December 7th to participate in the January 5th runoff election. 

Vote by mail. If you vote by mail, be sure to request your ballot as soon as possible! If you are voting absentee in the December 1st runoff as well as the Senate runoff in January, you will need to request your ballot twice. 

Vote early in-person. For the December 1st election, early in-person voting will take place at designated locations in Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties from November 23rd through November 25th. For the January 5th election, early in-person voting begins December 14th through December 31st at designated voting locations in your county

Vote in person on election day. Polls open on December 1st and January 5th from 7am to 7pm.

Black Georgians played a huge role in electing Kamala Harris as the first Black person and first woman as Vice President — we have the chance to make history again by electing Raphael Warnock as the state’s first Black Senator. We can win this race and create a better future for Georgia, for Black communities, and for the movement overall.

Arisha Hatch is the Executive Director of Color Of Change PAC.

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