• Nate Adams

Review: 'All In: The Fight For Democracy' essential viewing in prep for upcoming election


Courtesy of Prime Video

With the presidential election less than two months away, talk of voter suppression and mail-in-voter fraud is running rampant. But as the essential documentary “All In: The Fight for Democracy” will tell you, that’s nothing new. As urgent as any film during this tumultuous political season, co-directors Liz Garbus and Lisa Cortes outline crucial issues around American citizens and their right to cast a ballot. It’s ironic how the second amendment never goes away if you choose not to fire a gun, but if you skip an election cycle for six years, you can risk being purged by a government that doesn’t care what you have to say. 


“All In” opened up my perspective and immediately made me look up my local polling location to make sure I was registered to vote. I’m one of the lucky ones who has a valid driver's license and in the last few elections have had zero issues with asserting my constitutional right. Some, especially disenfranchised minorities and people of color, aren’t so fortunate. 


While the film is a history lesson on the passage on the voting and civil rights movements of the 1960’s, the central subject of the doc - and also serving as a producer - is Stacey Abrams, a lifelong voting rights activist who is featured predominantly throughout the film. Her 2018 Gubernatorial race against republican Brian Kemp for the governor of Georgia is a main focal point for Garbus and Cortes, especially as the election was decided by a marginal 17,000 votes while Kemp, not coincidentally, was also serving as the Secretary of State. Meaning he oversaw the entire voting process and can decide if votes are fraudulent or not. Tell me again how we live in a democracy? 


Calling into question the moral ethics of Kemp’s slim victory, nearly 200,000 voters were purged and therefore deemed ineligible. An additional 32,000 votes were also discounted, bringing into question the validity of the election. Even though lawsuit after lawsuit was filed, and recounts were mandated, Kemp went ahead with his transition of power and became the next Governor of Georgia. 


But that’s not even the most egregious and despicable display you’ll see in the film, instead, real life stories the filmmakers piece together from talking heads, and splicing in archival footage prove the most heinous. Such is the tale of Maceo Snipes, a Black WWII veteren from Taylor County, Georgia who fought for democracy and the right to vote. Upon his return home, he decided to cast his ballot - the only Black man in his county to do so - and a few days later was shot and killed on his front porch, sending a clear message to any Black folk that if you vote. You die. 


And of course, those killers - despite evidence and first hand testimony - walked free. 


The biggest and perhaps most relevant case of voter suppression (one that’s facing citizens in the forthcoming election) comes from the year 2013 when the Supreme Court, in Shelby, Alabama, with a ruling of 5-4, agreed that the federal government should no longer interfere with state elections. This would immediately lead to states like Wisconsin, Florida, and New Hampshire implementing an entirely new set of voting laws that targeted poor people, immigrants and Africian-Americans. If your blood isn’t boiling, it should be. 


“All In: The Fight for Democracy” provides a wealth of insightful information on the countless amendments put forth in the constitution to allow citizens the right to vote. The filmmakers clearly outline the steps our government elected officials take to suppress voters and it doesn’t install any hope that the 2020 election is going to go smoothly. In a normal year, this would already be a major issue, now throw in a global pandemic and a president that inaccurately claims voter fraud will rigg the upcoming election (in 2016 Trump claimed he “won” the popular vote when you discount the 3,000,000 people who voted illegally, except, after a lengthy investigation, no fraud was actually found) and you get a giant shit show. 


Our voice is the only thing we have to enact change and that starts by making ourselves heard. This doc urges viewers to assert their rights, and make every effort to get out and make a difference.


One vote at a time. 


Grade: A- 


ALL IN THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY premiers September 18th on Amazon Prime Video