With just eight words – “I cast my ballot for President Joe Biden” – a group of 16 electors, including the state’s first openly LGBTQ elected official, formally delivered Georgia’s electoral votes to a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time since 1992.
“This is not a moment of partisanship, it is a moment of patriotism,” said Stacey Abrams, one of the electors and the former state lawmaker and gubernatorial candidate who presided over the electoral vote.
The hour-long process on Monday took place in the Georgia Senate chamber, which is controlled by Republicans and is often the starting point for some of the most notoriously anti-LGBTQ legislation proposed by lawmakers. It’s also the chamber that in January welcomes Rev. Kim Jackson, who will become the state’s first – and only – LGBTQ senator.
The 16 Democratic electors calmly moved through the formalities of casting their ballots for Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. The historic moment stood in sharp contrast to weeks of chaotic efforts by Republican officials and others to overturn the results of Georgia’s election, which Biden won by about 12,000 votes.
“We stand not for our ourselves and not for our party but for the people of Georgia. It is on their behalf that we took up this charge. It is on their behalf that we are ensuring that this nation is led by a good man,” Abrams said.
Abrams was nominated to preside over the electoral vote by Cathy Woolard, a former Atlanta mayoral candidate who became the state’s first LGBTQ elected official in 1997.
Abrams, in turn, applauded Woolard and the other 14 electors. They included Democratic power brokers and elected officials.
“When I was at the City of Atlanta watching new things unfold, there was Cathy Woolard,” Abrams said. “I name each of you because each of you have claimed this state as your own but more importantly you claimed the people as your own.”
‘Our work here is not done’
The 16 electors were spaced out in the Senate chamber under pandemic protocols. An empty row separated each row of electors, and all were wearing face masks. A limited audience viewed the proceedings from the gallery, while Georgia Public Broadcasting streamed it online (watch above).
“I’m pleased to announce that Joseph R. Biden has received 16 votes for president of the United States,” Abrams said after each elector cast a ballot on paper and confirmed it with a voice vote.
After the vote, U.S. Rep.-elect Nikema Williams – an elector and chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia – pointed to the two U.S. Senate runoffs on Jan. 5. The races pit two anti-LGBTQ incumbents against two pro-equality candidates.
“In Georgia, we made history by delivering our state’s 16 electoral votes to a Democratic candidate for the first time in 28 years,” Williams said in a prepared statement. “But our work here is not done. We have 22 days to elect Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock to the US Senate, where they will work with the Biden-Harris administration to build back better and fight for health, jobs, and justice for all Georgians.”