Mary Norwood finally conceded the Atlanta Mayoral election. After contesting the results for two weeks, Norwood decided against a legal challenge. Late Wednesday night, Norwood posted a video announcing she would concede.
While it’s a bit of a stretch to compare the situation to the recently ousted White House advisor Omarosa, the concession has been overdue. Thanking Atlanta and her supporters, Norwood would not go without a final word on racism. Norwood seized the opportunity to address criticisms of her campaign on the matter of racism.
Norwood refused to concede after a recount confirmed Keisha Lance Bottoms won. The recount showed Mayor-elect Bottoms won by over 800 votes. Norwood raised new allegations concerning the validity of votes from certain neighborhoods.
Norwood’s concession included a final jab at those who opposed her during the election. Yet, she continues to misunderstand the critique of her and the issue of race.
Being oblivious to the perpetuation of racial tropes doesn’t absolve Norwood. A point of contention has been the audio which she claims was doctored or distorted what she was trying to say. Norwood deflected from her careless, casual conversations about Black voters and so-called “wrongdoing.” Such issues need nuance and great care, not a rush job to undo an undesirable election outcome.
Writing for the GA Voice, Ryan Lee described Norwood’s clear discomfort with the issue of race. He concluded that her “color blind” philosophy was a problem. We can bring “everyone” into the fold without having to ignore persisting issues of race and class. To say otherwise is naive at best.
Election integrity should always be a priority. But Norwood’s post-election comments were clumsy and, in part, reckless. Vague references to voter intimidation and improper voting fuel opponents of voting rights. In her concession, Norwood again referenced “voting irregularities” without context or explanation.
During the election, concerns were raised about whether marginalized communities would be protected. Threats to election integrity and voter suppression are widespread across the south. The current election system has failed voters for some time.
Problems at the polls are often overlooked and under-reported. We need champions who will defend the right to vote and access to the ballot box, whether they win or lose. Norwood promised to be a part of holding Mayor-elect Bottoms accountable. Time will only tell what “accountability” actually means to Norwood.