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Massive Reports of Voter Suppression in Georgia Today, the “Dress Rehearsal” for November’s Election

A gloved polling place worker holds an "I'm a Georgia Voter" sticker to hand to a voter

Today’s primary election in Georgia was plagued by massive voter suppression, with hours-long lines and broken or missing voting machines. This was especially a problem in Atlanta, which has a large Black population.

Atlanta’s mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, was tweeting Tuesday about the issues being reported. Multiple locations, including some of the city’s largest precincts, had lines out the door, around the block, and beyond. “NONE of the machines are working,” she wrote, asking the country commissioners to look into the issue.

Georgia has a long history with voter suppression, especially when it comes to Black communities. Most recently, in 2018, Stacey Abrams “lost” the gubernatorial election to Brian Kemp, a Republican who was, at the time, the secretary of state–aka the person in charge of overseeing the election. When reports of missing ballots and voting machines in predominantly Black areas came rolling in, guess who couldn’t be bothered to care.

Georgia is one of five states holding primary elections today and many have been calling this a “dress rehearsal” for November. Will we be any more prepared then? There is (understandably) a major shortage of poll workers due to COVID-19. We’re closing down polling places, forcing hours-long lines at the remaining ones. We’re apparently still trying to introduce new, fancier voting machines that end up not working when paper works perfectly fine.

(Here’s an idea to help with the poll worker shortage: Anyone who’s ever mocked or berated a grocery store worker, restaurant employee, or literally anyone else for wearing a face mask in public has to volunteer. How does that sound?)

At the very least, Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, decided to send absentee ballot applications to all active voters, which is something that should be done across the country. Aso of now, 16 states still do not have no-excuse absentee voting.

My own state of Missouri has a shamefully restrictive list of acceptable reasons for voting absentee and employment is not one of them (unless you are working on the election). Meaning many people have to choose between waiting hours to vote and potentially keeping their jobs–the system does not currently allow for both.

If today was the dress rehearsal for our election, I would be very worried about opening night.

(via Politico, NYT, image: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.