Stacey Abrams speaks at HackGT on education and technology

Photo courtesy of Ria Mitra

On Saturday, Oct. 26, Stacey Abrams visited Tech’s campus for HackGT6 to discuss the organization she chairs, Fair Fight 2020, as well as to answer questions from HackGT participants about political participation and the role of students and technology in politics. Abrams opened her discussion by highlighting the issue of voter suppression during  her run for governor of Georgia in 2018 and how Fair Fight is working to solve these issues before the upcoming 2020 election. 

Abrams explained, “20% percent of Georgia has no access to the internet … and the ability to register to vote is tied to access to the internet.” 

Furthermore, she noted that the Georgia election systems were hacked twice leading up to the 2018 gubernatorial race, resulting in the deletion of many registered voters from polls. Fair Fight is working to prevent these events from recurring. They also hope to ensure under-privileged communities see shorter lines at polling stations and properly-working voting machines, another widely-publicized issue during the 2018 elections.

After explaining her goals and vision for Fair Fight, Abrams answered questions from the audience. Many of the questions from HackGT participants pertained to the relationship between politics and technology and the lack of understanding about technological advancements among members of national and state governing bodies. Abrams encouraged students to get involved in politics in order to either explain technological concepts to representatives or be representatives themselves. 

“I do not see a divide between technology and politics,” she explained. “If you want to see a difference, be a candidate, help a campaign or vote.”

Abrams continued to emphasize the importance of technology in election fairness and security. She described the spread of misinformation on the internet, especially on social media sites frequently used by students, as a challenge to election security. In her words, “misinformation is still information.” 

Discussing the role of social media and technology companies in elections, Abrams noted that as Tech students seek jobs at well-known technology companies, they need to be mindful of their morals in these roles. She said that as employees, a person can have a greater impact on how their company handles key issues such as misinformation.

“I believe social media companies need to be held accountable for their behavior … and they need to be challenged in their decision-making,” Abrams said.

Overall, Abrams highlighted the ability of Tech students to have an influence on politics. She pointed out that with high starting-salaries, a quality education and knowledge of technology, Tech students can have large impacts in their communities and across the country.