Anne Branigan reports “Georgia Sees Unprecedented Turnout, Long Lines on First Day of Early In-Person Voting” at The Root:
Georgia is being closely watched by elected officials from both parties, as well as voting and civil rights activists, for a number of reasons: It is widely considered a battleground state and its recent history of voter purges, as well as allegations of voter suppression in the 2018 midterms, led many to question the integrity of the Peach State’s voting processes even before the coronavirus pandemic shifted the way many Georgians plan to vote.
Georgia’s election is of increasing media interest, as Democrats approach “toss-up” margins in two U.S. Senate races and the state assembly, as well as the presidential race. And a strong Black voter turnout could provide Dems with the margin of victory. Branigan notes,
Early voting typically favors Democrats, and polling from this year suggests that Black people, in particular, prefer voting in person over casting a ballot via mail, despite concerns about spreading the novel coronavirus. CNN, citing data from Catalist, which tracks voter databases across the country, reports that among competitive states for the 2020 presidential election, Georgia has the largest share of ballots cast by Black voters. Black voters—considered one of the most stalwart and influential voting blocs of the Democratic party—also represent a greater share of pre-Election Day votes in Georgia than they did four years ago, Catalist’s numbers show. In 2016, they made up 29 percent of all early voting; so far in 2020, Black voters have comprised 35 percent of all early ballots. In total, 425,000 votes have been cast in the state thus far.
Branigan notes that “some accused state election officials of trying to suppress the vote. One Cobb County voter reported waiting more than 9 hours in line, while singer and songwriter Johntá Austin wrote on Twitter that he stood in line for 11 hours on Monday waiting to cast a ballot.”
Georgia Republicans, who control balloting through the Governor, Secretary of State and state legislature majorities, blame the pandemic and a shortage of poll workers for the disproportionate problems experienced by Black voters in their state. The question is, will at least one of of four white voters give Dems the support needed to pick up two senate seats and Georgia’s electoral college votes? Democrats have every reason to invest more resources in that possibility.
No pressure or anything, but it’s not hard to see how a healthy turnout of Georgia progressives and moderates could prove instrumental in ending the Trump/McConnell nightmare — and set the stage for a new era of hope and opportunity for the nation.