TURES COLUMN: The election commission gives working families a big win with early voting

Published 10:30 am Tuesday, November 29, 2022

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By approving Early Voting on Saturday, Troup County’s Election Commission gave a big win for working families and parents with kids.  The next step for all of us in Troup County is to vote on Saturday, 11/26/22, to show how much Early Voting matters, and to help others on Election Day, so we can make this a tradition in future ballot box contests.

As I noted in an earlier column, I worked as an exit pollster in Upson County, a location that went overwhelmingly Republican in 2022.  But I also saw a number of working-class voters, and parents with kids needing to get to school, or after-school activities look at the long lines during the first two and last two hours on Election Day, and duck back out.

Believe it or not, while I’ve given lots of talks at academic conferences, LaGrange College and other colleges (as part of the Victims of Communism group as well as about Turkey and human rights), and even stood in for a Congressman once upon request, I had never spoken before at a public meeting. I talked to the Election Commission about my concerns about workers and parents who can’t always get off time to vote.  

“I have that flexibility to vote, as do my students,” I told the commissioners.  “But those who can’t be here, or can’t vote, deserve just as much of a say in government as I do, and that’s who I am here for.”

A decision on Sunday voting was turned down at the first meeting.  But at the second meeting, the Election Commissioners listened to so many community voices who all spoke in favor of early voting, including a racially diverse community team, political leaders, professionals, working people, and me.  I asked if my students and I could help with the Early Voting.

So please thank Chairman Bill Stump, Vice-Chair James Thrailkill, Dianne Davidson, Paulette Hall and Eric Davenport of the Election Commission.  They went beyond the partisan myths of whether this would help Democrats or Republicans and put Troup County voters first.

Did it work?  

Supporters of the measure did everything we could to get the word out about early voting, including social media posts and links. And the turnout was amazing.  There were almost 900 voters who showed up on Saturday. It was amazing to see Troup County with those impressive turnout numbers. On a per capita basis, we were probably right there with those big urban countries in Georgia.

The Washington Post did a story about Georgia’s Early Voting, even noting that a few red counties had a strong conservative turnout. Some of the reporting didn’t mention Troup County in their reports, but maybe they should have.

 They missed a good chance to show that it’s not just blue counties that understand the importance of getting people more chances to vote ahead of Election Day.

Thanks to a good turnout on Saturday, the Election Commission will be more likely to approve other Saturday voting options in the future. And that’s something sure to benefit conservatives, moderates and liberals too. In this worldwide anti-democracy mood, Troup County can show others how we can make voting more accessible for all eligible voters.