Dave Richards arrived at his polling place before dawn, carrying a blue lawn chair and a giant bottle of water. It was about 6 a.m. on October 12 the first day of early voting in Georgia and the business consultant was ready for a long wait in the Atlanta suburb of Smyrna.
After three hours in line, Richards, 51, voted in what he called the most crucial election of his lifetime. “This election is more important than the 2008 one for Barack Obama.
That 2008 one was for change and making history. This election is for saving the US,” Richards said, citing concerns about racial justice and suppression of Black voters. “The racial divide that is going on, we need someone who is going to be a leader for everyone, not just their base.”Across the country, Black voters are turning out in huge numbers. The stakes this year are especially high, they say, and nothing less than their health and safety is on the ballot.
In interviews with CNN, they said they’re worried about racial injustice and police brutality, they feel devalued by a President who has hesitated to condemn White supremacy and they fear losing health benefits if the Supreme Court overturns the Affordable Care Act. Many said this feels like the most important election of their lifetimes.
During a raging pandemic that has killed more than 223,000 Americans and ravaged Black communities, many Black voters could have mailed in their ballots. But after recent headlines about postal workers dumping undelivered mail and President Donald Trump’s debunked claims questioning the integrity of mail-in ballots, many don’t trust that process.
“The pandemic did not scare me,” Richards said. “The way that Trump was talking about mail in voting and lying about it, I wanted to do it and vote in person.”
“The last four years have been so bad,” he said. “We can’t stand four more years of that.”