Early voting began in Georgia on Monday, and WABE went live from State Farm Arena, Georgia’s largest polling place. The local hosts of “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered” – Lisa Rayam and Jim Burress— set up at the Arena and spoke to poll workers, elections officials and voters.
“This is my third stop,” said Fulton county resident Bobbie Thomas, who wore a black sequined dress with ‘VOTE’ in red letters written across it. “I stopped near my home, and I was told there was a two-and-a-half-hour wait. So, OK, go to work and then go back out. And then I went to the High Museum, of course, there was a long line. And then someone said they voted here earlier this morning, and it took just minutes.”
“It’s an untapped resource I think people need to know about,” said D’Artonya Graham, who came with her daughter. “We’ve been in here maybe seven minutes. What I think took the longest was trying to find my name with the apostrophe.”
Graham says her daughter is voting in her first-ever presidential election.
Not only was this the first week of early voting in Georgia, it was also the first time Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue have come face-to-face (virtually) in a debate. The Atlanta Press Club event was, at times, contentious. The debate was the first of three scheduled in the race and included Libertarian candidate Shane Hazel, who is polling very low. But Hazel could get enough of the vote that the close race between Ossoff and Perdue go to a runoff in January.
Georgia’s other U.S. Senate seat is a free-for-all race and has 21 candidates. Recent polling had Democrat Raphael Warnock ahead of Republicans Kelly Loeffler and Doug Collins. The race is likely to go to a runoff as well, as Georgia is the only state in the country to require a majority to win in a general election.
Depending on how U.S. Senate races go in the rest of the country, Georgia could be determining the majority party in the U.S. Senate in January if both of the races end up as close as recent polling suggests.