U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., campaigning in Atlanta on Monday 10/24/22 (Capital-Star photo by Ariana Figueroa).
On Election Day, I got to do some exit polling in a conservative town in a bright red county. I assure you, the results were great for the GOP. But the evidence showed me that early voting matters, and it doesn’t just benefit one party. Both sides should support expanding the freedom to vote that our ancestors fought so dearly for, instead of buying into partisan myths.
At the start of the day, the lines were long. Most of those waiting might have wanted to express their views to me afterwards, but many apologized, sprinting for the door. A number of them had kids in tow. Some looked at the long lines and left without casting a ballot, probably not wanting to be fired.
During the day, after the morning shift, the lines eased up to a trickle. I got to chat with retirees, and those who seemed to have a lot of flexibility in their schedule.
But as the clock wound down, turnout again surged. Some workers and parents with kids peeked in, judged the long lines, and ducked back out, without casting a vote. I never knew how many wouldn’t return.
That’s not America, or not the way America should be. The vote of someone who works long hours, and those having to juggle kids and schedules should be just as precious as those well off, or out of work, who have more time on their hands.
Early voting is big, and important. Not only did 2022 early voting shatter records for midterm election ballot casting, but even topped numbers from the high-volume presidential contest of 2020.
Last month, CBS News reported “In Georgia this weekend, more than 80,000 voters showed up on one day alone – a 159 percent increase from the same day of voting four years ago.” And 2018 was a high turnout midterm contest as well.
But in the Georgia runoff, the legislature limited the election time for such contests, as well as the time available for early voting.
U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., sued for an extra Saturday for voters to cast their ballots in early voting, even though it will likely include all those conservatives from the city and county I was exit polling in.
As USA Today reports some counties may allow Sunday voting on November 27, but only if local officials agree. We evidently couldn’t vote on Saturday, Nov. 26, because it’s a holiday, named “State Holiday.”
According to USA Today, it was once used to celebrate Robert E. Lee’s birthday. But he wasn’t even born in November, so that’s why it has the generic designation, which is blocking many working Georgians from voting when they have time.
I was so sure Herschel Walker would join Warnock, to ensure that even his own supporters and base of workers and parents of schoolkids would get time to vote.
I was stunned to see the Senate candidate’s opposition to common sense early voting.
“‘You don’t change the rules in the middle of the game,’” Walker said, as reported by Fox News. “‘They’ve known this, and it’s sad that right now they’re making it harder on the voters by bringing questions into the election system rather than just letting people vote and getting this done when there’s more time,’ Walker said when asked about Warnock’s lawsuit.”
Despite being a UGA Bulldogs fan, I’m going to have to disagree with Walker on this one. It’s not about partisan advantage, though that’s how it’s being treated.
I saw pipe-fitters, restaurant workers, nurses and teachers, some in the automotive industry and others in landscaping and construction have to make tough choices about their jobs and voting, and when everyone’s got a narrow time frame to vote, it can be like a major accident on Interstate-75. I hope Herschel will change his mind and join Warnock in fighting for change to give everyone a shot to vote.
Opinion contributor John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga. His views are his own. He can be reached at [email protected]. His Twitter account is JohnTures2. His work appears frequently on the Capital-Star’s Commentary Page.
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