Voter suppression has been a flash point in the Georgia governor’s race, where Democrat Stacey Abrams would become the first African American woman governor of any state if she beats Republican secretary of state Brian Kemp.
Unfortunately Kemp has used his position as secretary of state to try to stop tens of thousands of African Americans from voting, and his efforts seem to have backfired in a huge way.
Local news outlets in Georgia are now reporting that the early voting turnout for Democrats has been “historic.” Rather than sit back and let Kemp and fellow Republicans succeed in their efforts to stop black people from voting, Abrams’ supporters have mobilized people to get out to vote in record numbers.
WSB-TV in Atlanta reported that turnout on the first day of Georgia early voting more than tripled from the last midterm elections four years ago. The people turning out appear to be mostly minorities, suggesting that the massive turnout is a direct result of Brian Kemp’s attempt at taking away the voting rights of minorities.
What’s telling is that all over Georgia early voters have faced incredibly long lines, and this has only served to make them more determined to vote.
People told reporters they waited three hours in line on Thursday even though early voting started on Monday, and it has been that way all week in all of the heavily populated areas in and around Atlanta.
Cobb County elections director Janice Eveler told reporters that in the next election they will start with two early voting locations instead of one because of the long lines they’ve seen so far this year.
“For us, this is historic number of people coming out for early voting and voting by mail,” Eveler said.
Eveler said she has never seen lines like this for early voting.
Voter Paul Mock told reporters that he went to vote Wednesday, but never got to vote.
“The entire parking lot was full and the McDonald’s parking lot was full and the bank was full and then the line was too long. I didn’t want to stand in line,” Thomas said.
It was same situation when Thomas arrived Thursday. Parking was scarce, and the line was long. Thomas said he had more time on Thursday and not voting wasn’t even an option.
“It’s the No. 1 important thing we have to do for our country. It’s the only way your voice gets heard in our country and our community to let people know what you want matters,” Thomas said.
Eveler said that another early-voting location will open on Saturday. Even more will open the following week.
“We open a total of 11 locations, so that is basically because as people make up their minds more people want to vote in the advanced voting period,” Eveler said.
Reports from all over Georgia show that voters have come out in massive numbers to cast ballots during the first few days of early voting.
On Thursday morning, the Georgia elections office released updated numbers which showed that 300,000 people had early voted so far.
Expanding the total further were the mailed-in ballots which added nearly another 100,000 voters to the early voting totals so far. This is about twice as many as there were four years ago.
Since in-person early voting is available in all of Georgia’s 159 counties this has become an increasingly large part of the total vote in Georgia. During the 2016 presidential election 58 percent of voters cast early ballots while just 37 percent voted in advance in 2014.
By all accounts, a large majority of Georgians will have voted by the time November 6th rolls around. It appears that the actions of Kemp and his Republican colleagues to try to suppress Democratic voters in Georgia have not only backfired in a big way, they seem to have created a blue monster.
Democrats in Georgia have gotten the message. Due to gerrymandering and voter suppression efforts there is not a level playing field in America. The ONLY solution to this (until Democrats get back in power) is to overcome the obstacles by turning out to vote in huge numbers. This is what happened in Alabama to get Doug Jones elected.
Lawsuits are also underway to get the voter registrations reinstated that were thrown out by Brian Kemp. The outcome of these lawsuits may play a role in deciding the outcome of the Georgia governor’s election. But one thing for sure is that the massive numbers of people standing in line to vote for Stacey Abrams are going to play a significant role in deciding the outcome. And thanks to Kemp’s attempts at cheating, this may be enough to carry her to victory in an historic election.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.