Nsé Ufot wears a face mask that says "count every vote."
Nsé Ufot is CEO of New Georgia Project, a group dedicated to registering new voters formed six years ago by Stacey Abrams. (Ellen Eldridge/GPB)

After six years and nearly half a million newly registered voters, the New Georgia Project has no plans to slow down now that the nation is watching Georgia’s Senate races head to a Jan. 5 runoff.

This story also appeared in Georgia Public Broadcasting

The Peach State is now and for the foreseeable future cemented as a battleground state, New Georgia Project CEO Nsé Ufot said Saturday during celebrations in John Lewis Freedom Park.

Before what Ufot called the “aggressively and fiercely nonpartisan” organization launched, there was a deep and wide racial voter registration gap, she said.

“So, voters of color, Georgians of color, registered at rates lower than white Georgians, and we wanted to close that gap,” she said. “We focus on young people, right? Because the dip in young people’s participation is not having anything to do with their youth. It’s lack of familiarity with the process and not being brought in.”

In focusing on young Georgians of color, the project seeks to demystify how elections work, demystify how government works and demystify how to bring about change.

Members of the group took time to celebrate over the weekend, but Ufot said volunteers will be back at it soon.

“Tomorrow, we’re going to be knocking on doors and talking with people about how important the Senate race is,” she said.

Ufot credited former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams with the record number of ballots cast in Georgia this time around.

“We all owe her a debt of gratitude for seeing a problem and seeing it through a race and gender, [and] class lens,” Ufot said. “And then also working to develop solutions and build infrastructure that’s designed to address it … that’s designed to help Georgia families win and then defend those wins beyond one election cycle.”

In enfranchising voters, the New Georgia Project brought hundreds of thousands of Black people to the polls, in the face of “rampant, aggressive, sophisticated, well-funded voter suppression,” Ufot said.

Ufot said she believes the project had a hand in the changing the legislature as well as the ousting of President Donald Trump.

A record number of Georgians voted in the general election Nov. 3.

The outcome of the runoff races between Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock and Republican Sen. David Perdue against Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff could determine whether the GOP maintains its Senate majority.

The New Georgia Project’s mission is to change the culture of voting and, as campaigns release ads over the next two months, Ufot’s team plans to connect with people and register them to vote.

“It’s communications, but it’s also good, old-fashioned, feet-in-the-street, boots-on-the-ground organizing,” she said.

Early voting for the runoffs starts Dec. 14 and qualified voters can register online with a valid ID through the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.

Anyone who will be 18 years old by Jan. 5 is eligible to vote and the group encourages them to register to vote before the Dec. 7 deadline.

This story is appears here through a news partnership with Georgia Public Broadcasting.

Ellen Eldridge is a reporter for Georgia Public Broadcasting.