Atlantans organizing free pizza, water for long lines on Election Day

Stephanie Herrera crouches in line as she and other voters lined up in the rain on Friday, June 6, 2020 at Garden Hills Elementary School located at 285 Sheridan Drive NE, in Atlanta. Some waited up to three hours to vote. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM
Stephanie Herrera crouches in line as she and other voters lined up in the rain on Friday, June 6, 2020 at Garden Hills Elementary School located at 285 Sheridan Drive NE, in Atlanta. Some waited up to three hours to vote. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM

After seeing lines lasting up to seven hours at a Fulton County early voting location Friday, three Atlantans are raising money to provide free pizza, snacks and water to voters on Election Day.

Adelaide Taylor, Abbie Greene and Katie White have raised $4,100 to help feed and hydrate voters who may face long wait times to vote in the June 9 primary. Greene and White first coordinated Election Day pizza deliveries in November 2018, when long lines formed across metro Atlanta as people attempted to cast ballots for the Georgia governor’s race. Taylor joined them in the effort this year after she and Greene were unable to vote early at College Park Library on Friday.

“We showed up Friday morning around 7:40 and there was already a long line. For 45 minutes, we waited, but the line didn’t move,” Taylor said. “We had to attend video calls [for work] so we left.”

Voters who remained in line faced a wait of up to seven hours. Many Fulton County voters have not received the mail-in absentee ballots they applied for, leading some to vote in person instead. Fulton County now faces a state investigation into their handling of absentee ballots for the June 9 primary.

While turnout is generally lower in primaries than in general elections, new precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus may slow down the flow of voters. Polling places may have to allow fewer voters in at a time or have fewer poll workers in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines. The touch-screen voting machines and pens used to sign forms have to be regularly sanitized. Some counties, including Fulton, have consolidated polling places due to a lack of poll workers.

Taylor’s early voting experience led her, Greene and White to revisit the food-sharing effort, which they’ve dubbed #ProtestPizzaATL. Since Friday, they’ve raised more than $3,500, organized about 30 volunteers and established a partnership with Junior’s Pizza, a restaurant in Atlanta’s Summerhill neighborhood, to get food and water to people in long lines Tuesday. Whatever is not spent on food and drinks will be donated to Fair Fight Action, a voting rights organization run by former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.

Junior’s will be donating “most, if not all” of the pizzas distributed through the #ProtestPizzaATL effort, and will serve as a home base for volunteers, Taylor said. Most of the Election Day operations will be run via social media. People can report long lines to White, Greene or Taylor via Instagram (@abigailfrances, @adelaide__is and @katiewhite2 or use the hashtag #ProtestPizzaATL) and they’ll find volunteers who can deliver pizza, donuts or other snacks. They will likely focus on polling places in Fulton and DeKalb counties, but if volunteers are located elsewhere, they can also buy pizza from a restaurant near them to deliver and get reimbursed, Taylor said.

“We’re going to have to be lean and work quickly throughout the day, but we’re hoping that since people are so motivated to help, it will go smoothly,” Taylor said.

In order to adhere to social distancing guidelines, one volunteer will be dedicated to putting food on individual disposable plates and another will give the food to voters in line. Volunteers will have masks and gloves, and the gloves will be changed for each polling place they go to, Greene said in an Instagram post.

In addition to feeding people, Taylor said they hope to raise awareness about how long lines can keep people from casting a ballot.

“People who are able to wait in line for seven hours, I’m really inspired by them, but they should not have to do that. No one should have to do that,” Taylor said. “People who are able to stick it out, first, have the physical privilege to be able to stand and wait in the heat for that long and, also, the privilege to take off work or not have to go home and see what the kids are doing. You should not have to give up on your job or responsibilities in order to vote.”

Anyone who wishes to contribute to #ProtestPizzaATL can send money to Greene via Venmo or Cash App under the username abigailfrances.

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