Long poll lines during Georgia’s early voting raises concern for voter suppression

by Sarah Smith

Oct. 20, 2020

More Georgians are voting early this year compared to the last presidential election, but long poll lines have caused election officials to debate on what defines voter suppression.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said during a press conference on Oct. 14 that the long lines are caused by the popularity of voting early this year, according to ABC News.

 

On the other hand, Stacey Abrams, founder of voting rights organization Fair Fight, disagrees and stated in an interview with CNN on Oct. 13 that there is injustice and voter suppression on display in Georgia. 

Davon Johnson details voter suppression and how citizens feels about longer voting lines.

There are two types of voter suppression: long lines and purging the voting roles, according to Daniel Skidmore-Hess, Ph.D., interim associate dean and professor of political science at Georgia Southern University. According to Skidmore-Hess, what is hard to determine is whether this voter suppression is intentional or not.

“What seems to be going on there is that the state is simply not funding as many more polling places as a densely populated area like Atlanta would be,” Skidmore-Hess said.

Places where there are more African American and Hispanic communities experience 32% longer voting wait times than white voters would in their communities, according to the 2018 Cooperative Congressional Election Study from Jonathan Rodden, Ph.D.

Luckily, many college campuses are starting to open polling places on campus for students-- Georgia State University in Atlanta being one of them.

Morgan Lalor, a junior business major at Georgia State, witnessed her parents waiting in long lines for the last presidential election in Atlanta and is relieved that she has the chance to vote elsewhere.

“They waited for so long in those lines,” Lalor said. “Voting in Atlanta is always a mess because there are way too many people going to vote for the small number of polls.”

Voter SuppressionShelton Jackson
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Skidmore-Hess said that even though he voted through an absentee ballot, his home of Chatham County has worked with the community to stop long poll lines. After many voters complained that they waited in line way too long, the county opened up to more polling places for citizens to vote. 

Other delays at the polls have been caused by technology issues or voters changing their process from an absentee ballot to an in-person vote this year. 

One way that voters can manage their voting is by visiting My Voter Page, created by Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

 

This website allows voters to check their registration status, mail an application and ballot status, polling locations, elected officials, registration information, sample ballots and provisional ballot statuses.

According to the Expert Report of Jonathan Ridden, 32% of African Americans and Hispanics had to wait longer than white voters. (Graphic by Ashton Christianson)

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