As the primary contests for Georgia governor, U.S. Senate, and the dozens of local and statewide offices draw to a close on Tuesday May 24th, the turnout during the early voting period has shattered records. That is not lost on the mind of Bee Nguyen (pronounced ‘WIN’). Nguyen is an Atlanta Democrat currently representing the 89th State District in the Georgia House of Representatives. She occupies the seat that previously belonged to the former House Minority Leader, Stacey Abrams. Nguyen is running for Secretary of State, a position currently occupied by Brad Raffensperger.

“My first issue will be investing in and making sure that our local election boards are well equipped to run free and fair elections in their counties, ensuring that they have not only the resources but the training that they need,” Nguyen said when asked of the three issues she’d tackle if elected. 

When this week began, 416,558 Georgians had voted early in the 2022 primary, including 383,586 in-person voters and 32,972 absentee voters. Of the ballots cast, 237,031 were Republican, 176,592 Democratic and 2,935 nonpartisan. Turnout is up by 217%, according to research by Georgia Votes. 

“The second issue is voter education. The Secretary of State should have a duty to ensure that voters have what they need, including understanding when the deadlines are, especially with new deadlines around absentee ballot voting, understanding where to go, especially with polls consolidating or closing or moving, and understanding what to do if they’ve been flagged to be removed from the voter rolls.

“And then one of the biggest issues we’re facing is election disinformation. So building out a division that focuses on mitigating election disinformation, cybersecurity threats and foreign interference with our election system.”

Georgia State Representative Bee Nguyen attends a fundraiser in her honor at Establishment in Midtown Atlanta on Thursday, May 20, 2021. Nguyen is running for Georgia’s Secretary of State. (Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

During the May 2nd Democratic Primary Debate, Nguyen advocated for a hand-marked paper ballot system with an auditable trail where voters are able to discern who they are voting for. Moreover, Nguyen said when the Secretary of State’s office made voting accessible during the throes of the coronavirus pandemic, more people turned out to vote. Not coincidentally, the attacks on the validity of absentee ballot voting and the validity of drop boxes became an excuse for Republicans, even though the GOP did not have any issues with absentee ballot voting prior to the 2020 election. 

“And so my proposition is Georgians, no matter what side of the aisle you belong to, you deserve a free and fair and efficient election,” Nguyen said. “And when Georgians play by the rules, which everybody plays by the rules, those results should be upheld.”

Nguyen says there’s three things a lawmaker must do in order to effectively work with people they don’t agree with: Compartmentalize and detach, build coalitions and be willing to give up the credit. 

“That means even though you disagree on an issue, there are other areas of common ground,” Nguyen explained. “And so you have to remember that the disagreement on an issue should not prohibit you from trying to work on another issue where there’s some common ground.

Nguyen is currently the fundraising frontrunner among the Democrats, as she reported more than $1.1 million raised as of the last campaign finance deadline. The last day of early voting is Tuesday, May 24th.

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...