Hours in line in Georgia cause ‘voice must count’


Some just sat down on the wet curb, others were farsighted enough to bring a camping chair. On the first day of early voting in the southern state of Georgia in the US presidential and congressional elections, voters on Monday complained of having to queue for many hours. Long lines of voters also formed in Texas, where early voting began on Tuesday.

Local media in Georgia shot images from human traffic jams that swing around the corner block after block – and not just because people keep 1.5 meters apart. In Marietta, a northern suburb of the Atlanta metropolis, Viola Hardy told 11AliveNews that she joined the queue a little before 6:30 in the morning. She was able to vote almost five hours later. “It doesn’t matter how long it takes [..] we vote as if our lives depend on it, ”the African-American told the local TV station.

The long waiting times became an equal bet for debate between both parties. The (Republican) authorities organizing the voting in Georgia argued that these were a logical consequence of the “historical interest” this election year. Democrats spoke of voter oppression because, especially in districts where their voters live, there are too few polling stations or machines. These are mostly black Americans, a large electoral bloc in Georgia, which is considered a crucial state this year – also because there are two Senate races.

Also read this report from Georgia (2018): Less voters, please

Black voter longer in line

In 2019, a national survey found that, on average, black Americans queue longer to vote than white voters. Based on geolocation data from 93,000 polling stations across the US, California behavioral economist Keith Chen calculated that waiting times in all-black districts are on average 29 percent longer than those in all-white ones. The chance of a waiting time of longer than half an hour in black districts was also 74 percent higher.

Selectively erecting barriers to opposing voters is a tried and true tactic in the US – especially by Republicans. Georgia is notorious for this, most recently because of the controversial 2018 governor election. Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams then narrowly lost to Republican Brian Kemp, who himself, as a senior executive, could have co-organized the polls.

Voter commitment is reviving

The Georgia authorities are right that the turnout could be historically high this year. In 2016, 139 million Americans nationwide voted, approximately 55 percent of the population of voting age. After the Congressional elections of autumn 2018 already the highest turnout at midterms in a century, it is expected that at least 150 million people will now vote for the battle for the White House.

This resurgent democratic commitment is also evident from the score of the votes already cast, which the US Elections Project of the University of Florida keeps track of. As of Tuesday morning, 10.6 million Americans had already voted, more than six times more than three weeks before the 2016 election. Early or postal voting is in vogue because of corona.

Also read: More than ten million early votes, at least six times as many as in 2016

President Trump has been warning (without evidence) of postal voting fraud for months and has a team of attorneys standing by to challenge post-election votes based on alleged irregularities. For some voters, this leads to suspicion as to whether the elections will be conducted in an orderly fashion. For example, Jeff and Catherine Arnold, a white couple, said they accepted a 5.5-hour wait at the overloaded Marrietta polling station to “make sure our vote is processed.”

Source link by https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2020/10/13/uren-in-de-rij-in-georgia-want-stem-moet-tellen-a4015792

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