Things That Matter

Georgia Suffered An Election Day Meltdown And Minority Communities Were Hit The Hardest

On Tuesday, voters in both Georgia and West Virginia went to the polls to cast their votes in the state’s primaries. However, the process was so chaotic and unorganized in Georgia, that many are rightfully worried for what the state could look like come November’s presidential election.

The state’s election woes are already being investigated by both Republican and Democratic state officials, as the latter points out that the irregularities were overwhelmingly in predominantly Black communities. Georgia has a history of voter suppression and many worry that this could be a sign to come for the upcoming election, as Democrats hope to turn the state blue.

Voting delays across Georgia led officials to call for investigations into why voters spent hours standing in lines on a hot June day. 

Voters went to the polls in Georgia and West Virginia to cast their votes in the 2020 primary. However, things didn’t go as they should have in Georgia and it could be a sign of voter suppression in action. What happened was an infuriatingly frustrating breakdown in the voting process that appeared to disproportionately affect majority-black precincts in metro Atlanta.

From hours long waits to malfunctioning voting machines and even missing equipment, Tuesday’s Georgia primary was an absolute disaster. Add to that the state had shut down dozens of polling places and you had people waiting in line for more than four hours in some instances.

Many admirably waited in long lines through downpours and searing heat, and some stayed beyond midnight to exercise their right to vote. But untold numbers were dissuaded from voting by the lengthy lines and other issues that plagued the primary.

The primary was such a disaster that it drew the attention of both the state’s Democratic and Republican leadership, who have both called for investigations into the failures.

The state’s Republican Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, said “in certain precincts” in Fulton and DeKalb counties, the failures were “unacceptable. My office has opened an investigation to determine what these counties need to do to resolve these issues before November’s election,” he said in a statement.

The voting issues appeared to be happening in counties with large Black and Latino populations.

The glaring differences between predominantly white communities and those of color even forced LeBron James to weigh in.

“Everyone talking about ‘how do we fix this?’ They say ‘go out and vote?’ What about asking if how we vote is also structurally racist?” he tweeted.

Election workers said that their office had been flooded with calls from “voters who encountered barriers from polling sites that are not open on time, malfunctioning equipment, long lines with several hours’ wait time, insufficient backup paper ballots and more.”

Three-quarters of voters who called with problems identified as African American.

Meanwhile in Roswell, a mostly white Atlanta suburb, there were far fewer problems. Brian Takahashi voted there and told NBC News “it went well,” and that he was in and out in less than 20 minutes.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time Georgia has had issues with its voting.

Credit: Elijah Nouvelage / Getty Images

During the 2018 midterm elections, several counties across Georgia saw voting irregularities – including Fulton County, home to Atlanta. There the election was so chaotic that several Democrats alleged voter suppression. The secretary of state at the time was Brian Kemp, a Republican, who wound up winning the governorship by a thin margin against Democrat Stacey Abrams. Abrams at the time called the election “rotten and rigged.”

She tweeted Tuesday that “Georgians deserve better.”

“From Jasper to Fulton to Coffee & Chatham, long lines, inoperable machines & under-resourced communities are being hurt,” Abrams wrote, adding that Raffensperger “owns this disaster.”

Aside from making sure everyone’s vote is counted, Georgia is especially important in 2020 because it could be in play for the Democrats.

Experts agree that having such critical voting issues in a state that has been plagued by similar issues for years, doesn’t bode well for the November presidential election – especially as many Democrats consider the state to be in play.

Democrats have targeted Georgia — which has added 700,000 registered voters to the rolls since 2018 — as a possible swing state in November. Rachana Desai Martin, the national director of voter protection for Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said that what happened Tuesday is “unacceptable” and noted that many voters reported asking for — and never receiving — absentee ballots.

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