Stacey Abrams, Voting Rights Activists to Skip Major Joe Biden Speech on Elections

Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, a Democrat, won't attend a speech by President Joe Biden in Atlanta on Tuesday, where the commander in chief is due to address voting rights.

Some voting rights groups have also said they won't attend Biden's speech, expressing frustration with the apparent lack of progress on protections for voting rights during Biden's administration thus far.

Abrams cited a scheduling conflict for her decision not to attend the event, which will also feature Vice President Kamala Harris. Biden chose Harris to lead the administration's voting rights efforts.

Abrams, a 2018 gubernatorial candidate, is hoping to defeat Republican Governor Brian Kemp in the 2022 election.

She expressed her support for Biden's visit to Georgia on Twitter.

"The fight for voting rights takes persistence. As MLK exhorted, 'The clock of destiny is ticking out. We must act now before it is too late.' Thank you, @POTUS, for refusing to relent until the work is finished. Welcome back to Georgia where we get good done," Abrams tweeted on Monday.

However, some major voting rights groups have expressed opposition to Biden's visit and are making a point of not attending the event. They are even calling for the president to remain in Washington, D.C., unless he has a plan to reform the Senate filibuster in order to pass voting rights legislation.

Among the groups planning to skip the event are the Asian American Advocacy Fund, Black Voters Matter, GALEO Impact Fund Inc. and New Georgia Project Action Fund.

Cliff Albright, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, told CNN on Monday: "We don't need even more photo ops. We need action, and that action is in the form of the John Lewis Voting Rights (Advancement) Act as well as the Freedom to Vote Act, and we need that immediately."

James Woodall, former president of the NAACP of Georgia, also told The New York Times on Monday that "We need action" and not "photo ops." He urged the passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to Vote Act.

"We do not need any more speeches, we don't need any more platitudes," Woodall said.

Passing those pieces of legislation would require Democrats to overcome the Senate filibuster, which allows a minority of Senators to prevent a bill from becoming law and is likely to be deployed by Republicans opposed to the legislation.

Reforming the filibuster has become a key issue in the debate about voting rights and Biden has expressed support for changing the procedure to allow voting rights bills to pass. He will reportedly outline what those changes could be in remarks on Tuesday.

Albright said Biden should "give a clear call" on the filibuster.

The White House has said Biden and Harris will "speak to the American people about the urgent need to pass legislation to protect the constitutional right to vote and the integrity of our elections from corrupt attempts to strip law-abiding citizens of their fundamental freedoms and allow partisan state officials to undermine vote counting processes."

Phi Nguyen, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta, told CNN the president and vice president should remain in D.C.

"We beg you to stay in Washington tomorrow because we don't need you here in Georgia," Nguyen said.

"We need legislation that will ensure that our democracy accurately reflects the growing diversity of this state and of this country," she said.

Georgia is one of 19 states that have introduced new voting restrictions since the 2020 election.

Newsweek has asked the White House for comment.

UPDATE 1/11/22 07.16a.m. E.T.: This article was updated to include a new photo.

Composite Image Shows Abrams and Biden
A composite photo shows Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and President Joe Biden. Abrams and several voting rights groups will skip Biden's speech in Atlanta, Georgia, on Tuesday. Getty Images