As the clock ticked closer to 8 a.m., a poll worker came around to announce senior citizens could move to the front of the line. Jimmy and I pounced only to learn we didn’t quite meet the criteria. To qualify, you had to be 75 or older.
Jimmy and I returned to our spot, happy the couple we’d been just ahead of didn’t mind.
It was 8:30, an hour and a half after we arrived, when we finally made it inside. We’d be home by 9.
“Next," the poll worker announced as we took our place on the circle separating voters by 6 feet. Jimmy went first.
“Next,” another one yelled.
We produced our driver’s licenses and then nothing.
Neither of us, they told us, had been assigned a precinct.
That’s funny, we told them. We’d voted in the primary runoff elections just two months ago and in every election prior that this state had held dating back to 2000, when we moved here and cast votes in the presidential election that year.
Having moved here in late July, we were still relative newcomers to Georgia, but even then, we had no problems. This was new and out of the blue.
I was suspicious. Was this voter suppression?
It sure felt like it.
They directed us to the end of the table where the poll manager was already on the phone trying to help an elderly woman with a slightly different issue.
Is he the only person who can help us? I asked.
Another woman took our licenses and made a call on our behalf. A half-hour later, she was instructed to offer us a provisional ballot.
Jimmy and I huddled. He did not want a provisional ballot. He would wait until Election Day. He wanted his vote to count.
I turned and asked the poll worker, What would you do if you were us?
She smiled slightly and said, “I’d wait.”
With that, we looked at each other, turned and left. Confused. Frustrated.
Campaign literature I received in July encouraging people to vote by mail.
Credit: Campaign photo
Credit: Campaign photo
If someone had told me I’d be denied my right to vote at any time in my life, I would not have believed them.
For months, President Donald Trump’s campaign and Republican leaders have been making the claim that the upcoming election, both nationally and in some states, will fall prey to widespread voter fraud.
In May, for instance, he claimed that “there is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent.”
And even though federal judges appointed by presidents of both parties have made clear that such claims are baseless, I get the feeling that they may be only partially right.
Trump, I’m convinced, has been simply sowing distrust in the event he loses. I mean, why would you send out campaign literature inviting people to even to register to vote by mail if you believed the system was rigged?
I still believe that just as I believe he’s setting the stage for his refusal to accept defeat in the event Joe Biden wins or the count goes beyond Election Day.
I reached out to the secretary of state’s office only to be referred to Jessica Corbitt, director of Fulton County external affairs.
Corbitt did not respond to neither my phone messages nor an email I sent to her.
I didn’t hear from voting rights organization Fair Fight Action either, by the way, even after spending 15 minutes on the phone with a woman who wanted to know how I got their number.
Better question, I said to her, is how did you get my number? Y’all have been sending me text messages and emails several times a day for weeks now.
She laughed. I wasn’t amused.
Each week, Gracie Bonds Staples will bring you a perspective on life in the Atlanta area. Life with Gracie runs online Tuesday, Thursday and alternating Fridays.
She told me she’d have someone reach out to me about my experience.
I’m still waiting.
My colleagues Ben Brasch and Mark Niesse had a bit more luck.
There were others assigned to the Shakerag Elementary School precinct who were turned away from the early voting location at the library, like me and my husband and the couple that came after us, they found out.
Brasch asked the Fulton County elections head Richard Barron about the issue during a Tuesday press conference.
A piece of software had trouble correctly assigning voters to precincts, Barron said, but the problem has been resolved.
“There shouldn’t be any more issues in regards to that,” he assured.
We’ll see. I will try again Monday.
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