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Georgia Senate runoff elections will shape American policies in 2021

Posted at 12:02 PM, Jan 01, 2021

ATLANTA, Ga. — History is yet again knocking on Georgia’s door. The state is a birthplace for civil rights and equality is now a final battleground for the nation’s Senate.

“Everybody has their eyes here on Georgia,” said Maci Hall, the Georgia state director for voting rights group March On.

This election has been months in the making for Hall.

“We started off with the primaries: traveling all the way from Houston to Atlanta,” she said.

Now, she and voting rights advocates from March On are crossing the state of Georgia ahead of the highly contested Senate runoffs.

“We have so much work to get done, especially here in the state of Georgia,” said Hall.

The first step: getting voters to the polls.

“In 2020, it's been a lot of things that we can't control, but what we can control is our vote and our voice,” said Hall.

She is using her voice to fight for: “voter protection, voter education and really combating voter suppression,” said Hall of her mission for this election.

But, she’s not the only one speaking up. Groups with their eyes on other kinds of policy changes are also in the Peach State hoping to get voters involved.

“This election is just as important as the presidential election,” said Benjamin Zepeda of the National TPS Alliance.

Members of the National TPS Alliance came from all over the country to ask voters to help start a new era for immigration policies.

Rebecca Vasquez, 15, is one of those organizers.

“I'm just doing this for my community, and to stay with my parents, and fight for my human rights,” said the high schooler.

The outcome of this vote could change Vasquez’s life.

“This would mean that I would get to stay here with my family with my parents,” she said. “This would mean that I would get to go to college. I'm only 15, so my mom would get to see me walk across the stage, you know on my graduation, so it would mean… it's my future we're talking about here,” she said of her hope for how this vote will impact future policy changes for the whole nation.

Immigration policies, health care policies and environmental laws for the entire nation could all see changes this year depending on how Georgia votes.

Helen Butler, the executive director of non-partisan coalition The People’s Agenda is working to make sure every one of those votes is counted.

“Oh, what haven't we done!” said Butler. “We're texting, we're doing votercades. You name it, we're out here doing it. People are suffering right now, and they really need that help of our elected officials.”

Butler said whether the seats flip blue or remain red, she hopes the new senators will truly work for the people who elected them, and for the country depending on them.

“No matter who is elected, I think they understand that people are upset about the dysfunction, and that they must act,” said Butler.

The actions of organizers are already paying off because this runoff election has already seen record-breaking early voter turnout, especially with minority voters.

“The energy is phenomenal, the turnout is excellent,” said Butler.

No matter their policy goals, all of these activists agree: their work is only beginning.

“We want to ensure that moving forward, the work that we've done now with this runoff election is going to continue on,” said Hall.

“Public policy impacts us from the day we are born to the day we die, and everything in between. We're all fighting for great policies, but the way you get it, it has to go through the vote,” said Butler.

This vote for Georgians will happen Tuesday January 5, 2021, but the power of the outcome lies far beyond state lines and will make an impact for years to come.