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The Decaturish Election Day Live Blog (Part 1)

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The Decaturish Election Day Live Blog (Part 1)

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Amy Herr holds a sign during a ‘Get out the Vote’ rally hosted by the Avondale Alliance for Racial Justice at the ArtLot in Avondale Estates on September 19, 2020. Photo by Dean Hesse.


If you experience problems at your polling place today, email [email protected] and put “voting problems” in the subject line. 

All of our elections coverage can be found at Decaturishvotes.com. If you appreciate having coverage of our local elections and Elections Board, please sign up to become a paying supporter. For as little as $3 a month, you can help us continue to provide you with quality local news. To sign up, click here.

2 p.m. update: 

Decaturish Election Day Live Blog Part 2 is now up and running. This post won’t be updated again today. For the most recent updates on today’s election, click here

12:30 p.m. update:

Dele Lowman Smith, Board of Voter Registrations and Elections, said, “It’s problematic that the notices were sent so late that many voters didn’t receive them until yesterday. For now, there are signs redirecting voters to the new precinct location, and we’re working to get a staff member there to redirect voters in person.”

County Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson said, “We will take nothing for granted. There are remaining voters, and we will work to get them out [to the polls]. I am out today at several polling places, and people are very excited.”

Target and Ross Dress for Less at the Edgewood Shopping Center in Atlanta are boarded up, according to photos from our reporters and a post on the East Atlanta Neighborhood Facebook group. The stores did not provide a reason for why they were boarded up.


11:44 a.m. update:

One story we’re chasing this morning is perceived low turn out in south and east DeKalb County.

The Champion Newspaper notes, “More than half of DeKalb County’s registered voters had voted early in-person or submitted an absentee ballot as of the last day of early voting on Oct. 30, almost surpassing the county’s 2016 final election numbers. Of the county’s more than 572,856 registered voters, about 53.81 percent—or 308,283—ballots had been received through the three weeks of early voting and returned absentee ballots as of Oct. 30.”

The story goes on to say that, Since 2008, “DeKalb County has averaged a 75.85 percent total voter turnout during General Elections that include the U.S. president’s race.”

Reporter Joe Ripley with 11 Alive News also has this update from a voting location in south DeKalb County …

As we noted earlier today, DeKalb Elections Director Erica Hamilton previously said closed precincts would not be staffed by volunteers. But today, Fair Fight and DeKalb Democrats have volunteers redirecting voters in several DeKalb locations. There’s been some speculation that there will be more voters in these areas as the workday ends.

We’re sending reporters to south DeKalb right now to gather more information. Stay tuned …

11:33 a.m. update:

According to the Georgia NAACP, all machines in Spalding County are back up and running.

11:15 a.m. update:

Ninth-grader Cash Bluestone and Pastor Andy of Neighborhood Church volunteered to hand out food at the polls in Candler Park.

11:10 a.m. update:

Fox 5 Atlanta has more details about the situation developing in Spalding County …

11:02 a.m. update: 

This arrived from the United States Attorney’s Office this morning …



ATLANTA – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia and the Department of Justice (”DOJ”) announced plans for voting rights monitoring in Fulton and Gwinnett Counties for the Nov. 3, 2020 general election. The DOJ historically has monitored in jurisdictions in the field on election day, and is again doing so this year. The department will also take complaints from the public nationwide regarding possible violations of the federal voting rights laws through its call center.

“Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak.  “On Election Day, Civil Division staff from my office will be monitoring voting procedures at polling places throughout Fulton and Gwinnett Counties.  Free and fair elections are critical to our democracy, and my office will continue to devote resources to protect this fundamental right.”

“Federal law entrusts the Civil Rights Division with protecting the right to vote for all Americans,” said Eric S. Dreiband, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “Our federal laws protect the right of all American citizens to vote without suffering discrimination, intimidation, and harassment. The work of the Civil Rights Division around each federal general election is a continuation of its historical mission to ensure that all of our citizens can freely exercise this most fundamental American right.”

The Civil Rights Division enforces the federal voting rights laws that protect the rights of all citizens to access the ballot. Since the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, the division has regularly monitored in a variety of elections around the country throughout every year to protect the rights of all voters, and not just in federal general elections.

On Nov. 3, the United States Attorney’s Office and the Civil Rights Division plan to send personnel to two jurisdictions in the Northern District of Georgia to monitor for compliance with the federal voting rights laws.

As in past years, monitors will focus on compliance with the Voting Rights Act, and the other federal voting rights laws enforced by the division. Monitors will include civil rights personnel from the Civil Rights Division and civil personnel from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Civil Rights Division personnel and the U.S. Attorney’s Office will maintain contact with state and local election officials.

The Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section enforces the civil provisions of federal statutes that protect the right to vote, including the Voting Rights Act, the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, the National Voter Registration Act, the Help America Vote Act, and the Civil Rights Acts. The division’s Disability Rights Section enforces the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to ensure that persons with disabilities have a full and equal opportunity to vote. The division’s Criminal Section enforces federal criminal statutes that prohibit voter intimidation and voter suppression based on race, color, national origin or religion.

On Election Day, Civil Rights Division personnel will be available all day to receive complaints from the public related to possible violations of the federal voting rights laws by a complaint form on the department’s website https://civilrights.justice.gov/ or by telephone toll-free at 800-253-3931.

Individuals with questions or complaints related to the ADA may call the department’s toll-free ADA information line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD), or submit a complaint through a link on the department’s ADA website, at https://www.ada.gov/.

Complaints related to disruption at a polling place should always be reported immediately to local election officials (including officials in the polling place). Complaints related to violence, threats of violence or intimidation at a polling place should be reported immediately to local police authorities by calling 911. These complaints should also be reported to the department after local authorities have been contacted.

Last week, the Justice Department announced its overall plans for the general election to protect the right to vote and secure the integrity of the voting process through the work of the Civil Rights Division, Criminal Division, National Security Division, and U.S. Attorney’s Offices.

More information about the federal civil rights laws is available on the Civil Rights Division’s website at https://www.justice.gov/crt.

Complaints about possible violations of the federal voting rights laws can be made directly to the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section in Washington, DC by phone at 1-800-253-3931 or (202) 307-2767, by fax at (202) 307-3961, by email to [email protected] or by complaint form at http://www.justice.gov/crt/complaint/votintake/index.php.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at [email protected] or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.


10:46 a.m. update: 

Gabriel Sterling, the Voting System Implementation Manager at Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, said voter wait times are low around the state this morning.

9:56 a.m. update: Reporting from George Chidi:

Peter Offiong took his 71 year old mother, Bassey, to vote this morning. Both are immigrants from Nigeria.

William C. Jones, 81, voted this morning at Freedom Middle School. The retired post office worker is a man of habit; he votes the day of an election, every time. His issues are climate and justice. The protests of the summer did little to influence him, he said. “I was going to vote, no matter what.” The scandals of the post office are important to him, however. “They’ve been trying to privatize the post office for a long time,” he said. “There’s thievery going on with taking out the machines.”

Phil Bert, a contractor, voted at Stone Mountain Elementary this morning, probably around the 60th voter there. He’s an immigrant from Dominique, with children and grandchildren here. He said he has started to sour on America because of the division. Trump has “put more wood on the fire,” he said. The important thing is simple survival, “trying to feed kids, eat and drink and to be free to walk the street.” He said he is scared for his chidren.

Peter Offiong took his 71 year old mother, Bassey, to vote this morning. Both are immigrants from Nigeria. The effects of the pandemic have put a strain on their family. His father has had to remain in America for much longer than expected because of travel restrictions, he said. Peter is looking for a job. Bassey voted for Biden, with the thought of family separation of children at the border looming large in her thoughts.

9:21 a.m. update: Scanners at Morris Brandon Elementary in Buckhead are locked, and voters are having to use emergency paper ballots.

9:10 a.m. update: 

There was no line or voters inside at Livsey Elementary School in Tucker as of 8:45 a.m. A security guard at the school said he expects bigger crowds around the lunch hour and when people get off work. Photos by Zoe Seiler

Georgia Postcard Project sent over 450,000 postcards over the last several months. Now those volunteers are transitioning to help cure ballots through the Democratic Party of Georgia, according to Jodi Cobb. Five hundred affidavits were sent yesterday, in a door-to-door effort to cure ballots across the state, according to reporter Logan Ritchie.

Georgia National Guard was seen at a Shell station on Candler Rd last night, according to Twitter posts.

8:42 a.m. update: DeKalb County voters continue to see short lines, or no lines at all, at polling places. Some polling places reporting lines of about 30 people.

8:34 a.m. update:

Last week, DeKalb Elections Director Erica Hamilton said closed precincts would not be staffed by volunteers. But today, Fair Fight and DeKalb Democrats have volunteers redirecting voters in several DeKalb locations.


If you see a line at DeKalb Co polling places, let us know. We have volunteers ready to help with comfort items & support. #election2020
TwitterTwitter | Today at 7:49 AM

Today at 2 PM, a training will be held by Georgia Democrats for volunteers to cure ballots. To sign up, go here.

8:26 a.m. update: It’s not our area, but there’s some trouble brewing in Spalding County right now …

7:53 a.m. update: George Chidi visited the West Clairmont voting precinct. “They had 20 people in line at 7 a.m. and 31 so far at 7:45. They have four poll pads operating. This precinct has a bit more than 3000 registered voters, and had about 500 in person primary voters.”

7:40 a.m. update: An update on a minor bit of drama surrounding the election. Gov. Brian Kemp has been quarantining due to COVID-19 exposure and there was some intrigue surrounding whether he would be able to cast a vote this year. According to political reporters at the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the governor got an absentee ballot and is dropping it off today.

Retired Decatur High teacher Chris Billingsley checks in:

Election Day 2020, Smoke Ruse Baptist Church, Smoke Rise GA.

Well, it’s finally here. I thought the line would be long but for the first time, I’m Number One!  Beat the poll workers (They just arrived and thought I was a volunteer ). Praying for a slam dunk. God Bless America!

Photo provided by Chris Billingsley

7 a.m. update: Good morning, Decaturish readers. It’s 7 a.m., which means polls have opened today, Nov. 3, for the 2020 presidential election. Decaturish will provide coverage throughout the day as our teams visit polling stations in DeKalb County. The editors today are Publisher Dan Whisenhunt and Assistant Editor Alex Brown.

Here are the reporters who will be working on election coverage for us today.

– Contributor Zoe Seiler and photographer Dean Hesse will be visiting local polling locations and speaking with voters about their experiences on election day.

– Contributors George Chidi and Gabriel Owens will be on the lookout for voter intimidation occurring at our polling places.

– Contributor Logan C. Ritchie will be following up on reports of problems at the polls provided by our teams out in the field and our readers. If you experience problems voting on Election Day, email us at [email protected] and put “voting problems” in the subject line.

Some Twitter feeds we’ll be following today include George Chidi, Mark Niesse, Greg Bluestein, Jim Galloway, and Steven Fowler.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. If you are still in line when the polls close, you will be allowed to vote.

You have to be 18 to vote.

People who wish to vote early and in-person will need to bring one of the following forms of identification, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office:

– Any valid state or federal government-issued photo ID, including a free ID Card issued by your county registrar’s office or the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS)

– A Georgia Driver’s License, even if expired

– Valid employee photo ID from any branch, department, agency, or entity of the U.S. Government, Georgia, or any county, municipality, board, authority or other entity of this state

– Valid U.S. passport ID

– Valid U.S. military photo ID

– Valid tribal photo ID

The polls offer audio ballots for voters who are blind or have low vision and booths for voters in wheelchairs. If you need help with your ballot, you can ask a family member or friend to come with you to the polls and fill the ballot in with your choices.

If you vote on Nov. 3, find your polling location by visiting the Georgia Secretary of State’s My Voter Page. You can also use the website to check to see whether your absentee ballot was accepted.

People who vote on Election Day might find that they have a precinct different than the one they usually use.

According to DeKalb County, “Many of the previous precincts were used on an emergency basis during the June 9 and Aug. 11 elections, while additional precincts were changed to provide additional space for social distancing and to better accommodate larger crowds. Additionally, secure ballot drop boxes [for absentee ballots] have been added to the Kirkwood Library and Lithonia City Hall.”

Here is a full list of the precinct changes voters will encounter if the vote on Nov. 3 instead of voting early.

Changes will also be posted at www.DeKalbVotes.com

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