The United States has been seeing record turnout in the 2020 general election.
Michael McDonald, associate professor of political science, says, “it’s possible 85 million people could vote before Election day and perhaps 150 million will vote in total.” Compared to the previous election, 138.8 million people voted in 2016.
According to an article by the Washington Post, “at least 23 million people have voted in battleground states” as of October 22, 2020. And it’s not even November yet!
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Record turnout has traditionally benefited Democrats in the past, so voter enthusiasm and turnout are good signs for Joe Biden’s chances.
Despite record turnout, suppression is real, active, and represents a threat to voters. Here are a few examples of voter suppression that’s been happening thus far in this election:
- Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) ordering “Texas counties to provide no more than one drop-off location for voters casting absentee ballots” on October 1.
- Reports of voters waiting in line for hours in Georgia. Some voters had to wait anywhere from five to 10 hours to cast a ballot.
- 200 ballots in a ballot drop box in California were burned by an arsonist.
- Voter ID laws in Republican-held states.
- Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) urging “local election officials…to remove the voter rolls…of people with felony convictions who still owe court fees and fines.”
- Ohio voter lines stretching a quarter of a mile.
- Russian operatives “posing as Americans on social media” and discouraging Black Americans “from voting.”
- Slashing “in-person early voting to just two weeks” in Wisconsin.
- COVID-19 hasn’t made it any easier for people to vote in-person.
The long queues and reports of different covert and overt methods to suppress US voters have shocked the entire world. In a BBC article, one man in India that was interviewed said “his country handles more election ballots than any other democracy in the world” and sees “no such long queues.”
The United States was the birthplace of modern democracy. Now, the country is subject to scorn and incredulity about the way it conducts its most sacred process.
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The Georgia 55 Project
Despite the voter suppression going on, some people are fighting back. I found out about a group called “The Georgia 55 Project” and I must say, they have a very interesting take on fighting voter suppression. With pizza, that is.
According to the information on their website, https://www.georgia55.org/, the group is dedicated to making “voting accessible to all metro-Atlantans through community and food-centric outreach methods.”
Founded by four Millennial women in 2018, they’re “working to reduce voter suppression” in Georgia, working especially close with Black and minority communities. The most prominent way they do this is through feeding and hydrating voters that are standing in line at the polls.
Not only do they deliver food to voters in line, but Georgia 55 also helps educate and spread awareness about everything there is to know about voting in a variety of different ways, especially when it comes to food.
They sign up voters at farmers’ markets. They pay for stamps at food banks. They spread awareness in restaurants by partnering up with them. Restaurants help by donating at low cost or free to hungry voters, standing in long lines.
Being in Georgia, a southern state, Georgia 55 is leveraging the states’ “great food and Southern hospitality” and extending that experience to voters. Georgia 55 understands that long lines deter voters from committing to vote or even coming at all. They’re ensuring their experience is comfortable as possible.
According to a study from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, referenced by American Progress, “long lines were estimated to have deterred at least 730,000 Americans from voting in the 2012 election.” Additionally, they found that “3% of people standing in line at voting locations left before they could vote as a result of long lines.”
People who work hourly jobs, or can’t take time off easily, are less likely to vote if the lines are too long. People who are not able to find childcare or lack transportation are less likely to vote. Long lines impact “communities of color, low-income Americans, and young people.
Their social media profiles are littered with call-to-actions, quotes, statistics, and trivia facts about voting.
Lastly, Georgia 55 helps anxious voters, especially those who haven’t voted before, through the process. On their website, they help Georgians understand the issues and candidates on the ballot.
The group has seen tremendous success thus far in this year’s election. They delivered “food to more than 50 polling sites,” back in June. They ended up serving a total of “30,000 Georgians” during the primaries.
I reached out to the group to let them know I was writing this article and they let me know that “for Election Day on 11/3, [they] have architected a robust and agile system” to “distribute food, beverages, PPE, chairs, and other supplies to 300,000+ voters across 150–200 polling locations.”
And the best part? They’re having fun while doing it.
The Georgia 55 Project is committed to focusing on majority-minority polling places and seeks to recruit 300+ volunteers and partner with 30+ local restaurants, food trucks, and food partners. And donations are always welcome!
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Each vote matters
No one in Georgia knows how each vote counts more than Stacey Abrams (D), Democratic nominee for Governor in 2018, who lost to Republican Brian Kemp by 55,000 votes.
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Georgia is looking like another close election, both for the Presidential and Senate races. According to RealClearPolitics, Joe Biden has a 1.2-point lead over Donald Trump in Georgia as an average of the last few polls. Both Republican Senator incumbents, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are in tight races of their own.
Both parties un
derstand the importance of turning out their voters to the polls. And young activist groups like Georgia 55 are figuring out creative, innovative ways to help voters be engaged.
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Doing our part
I currently live in a non-competitive state. Unfortunately, thanks to the Electoral College, my vote is worth considerably less than someone else’s vote who lives in a battleground state such as Georgia.
One of the best things anyone in my situation can do to help with voter turnout, especially in a pandemic environment, is to donate to nonpartisan groups such as Georgia 55. Non-Americans can’t donate to political campaigns in the US, but they can donate to help feed others!
So, what do you say? Let’s feed voters some pizza!
Information from Georgia 55 on How to Donate:
Georgia 55 Project’s Donation Link
“100% of your donation goes to voter materials and supplies to run our campaigns. There are three ways to donate:”
Venmo — @georgia55project
CashApp — $georgia55project
PayPal — paypal.me/georgia55project
Georgia55 Project’s Instagram
Georgia55 Project’s Twitter
This post was previously published on Medium.com.
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