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Foiling Voter Suppression in Georgia

Posted on December 9, 2022

Absentee ballot voting is devilishly hard in Georgia – especially with the new short turnaround times for Runoff elections.  That is one reason that the Warnock campaign put out the call for canvassers to knock doors during the last four days before December 6th Runoff and why Alix Smullin organized a small band of canvassers from Swing Blue Alliance and from her extended family to travel to Georgia.  The canvassers came back to Massachusetts with a treasure trove of stories about helping voters. Here is one that Alix shared with us.

I was canvassing with Martha M. in Clayton County. Our first assignment was in a senior living residence.  I knocked on unit 706 as Martha went on to the next door. After the second knock, I thought I heard some noise in the unit so I waited a little longer until an older woman with a walker opened the door. The voter, whose name was Gwen, invited me in and despite instructions to the contrary, I went in. She was very upset because she had gotten home the night before from Detroit celebrating one of her children’s 50th birthday and was so sure she would not be able to turn in her absentee ballot that she had thrown it away.

Upon hearing that it was not too late to vote, Gwen started rifling through the trash.  While she was looking for her ballot, I called voter protection to see exactly how we could get the ballot turned in.  “You’re not allowed to handle the ballot,” the hotline told us.  “The only way for her to vote is to bring the absentee ballot to the Board of Elections herself. “
When Gwen’s efforts did not yield the ballot I took a look in the trash and found it.  By the time she filled it out, got dressed and was ready to leave the house, Martha had finished the entire building!

With Gwen and her walker and cane in the car, we headed to the Board of Elections. Martha went in to ask someone to come get the ballot since we had been told we could not deliver the ballot – but the person in the office said we could bring it in after all.  We both went to make sure.

After hearing her life story, seeing pictures of her children and picking her prescriptions up at Walmart, we delivered a much relieved Gwen home. Martha and I could check off that we were in fact responsible for at least one vote!

Swing Blue volunteers also helped voters navigate the voting maze from home.  Here is a story from Steve Vogel, a phone bank captain:

Just In the Nick of Time

I was making GOTV calls for the Georgia Runoff on Election Day 12/6. I was just about to give up because just about every call was a hangup, someone refusing to talk, or who had already voted. I then had the call which made it all worthwhile.  I spoke to an African American man who was just on his way out to vote for Senator Warnock.  He was just about to hang up, when I  told him that his polling place was a local community center.  I then learned that he was going to vote at his local library where he voted in November.  When I let him know that if he had gone to the library his vote would not have counted, he told him how thankful he was that I called, and I let him know how thankful I was that he answered his phone.  Saving a vote felt so empowering.

What’s your Georgia Runoff story?  Let us know.