Politics & Government

Live blog: ‘Every vote counts. All of them’: Voters in Macon say they want change

What gets Macon residents to the polls?

Family and friends traveled together to polling stations across Macon Tuesday for the midterm election. Several voters share why the cast their ballots.
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Family and friends traveled together to polling stations across Macon Tuesday for the midterm election. Several voters share why the cast their ballots.

7:30 p.m.: Barbara White, poll manager at the Middle Georgia State University location, said that lines were long but moved quickly.

“When we opened this morning, we had a line at the front door and up the sidewalk,” she said. “It moved fast.”

She said that over 1400 voted at that location, with the last person casting their ballot at 7:10 p.m.

— Emily Rose Thorne and Rylee Kirk, CCJ contributors

7:25 p.m.: Only a few people were left when polls were about to close at Mable White Baptist Church on Bass Rd.

“I should have come early because the lines were very long, but for the most part it was okay- I wasn’t nervous,” Georgia voter Katrina Trice said.

When asked about the importance of voting, residents expressed how important it was to make sure that people’s voices are heard.

“Well they’re spending your money, so when they’re spending your money you want to make sure that you’re getting the people that you want,” another Georgia voter James Andrew said

. People came out to vote for this election because they felt like a lot was at stake.

“I voted back in 2012, it was great, Obama was running. Now we have all of these people and they’re not bring much to the table,” Trice said. “From the previous things that have happened in the court systems we need something different.”

— Camryn Jackson and Mahima Sultan, CCJ contributors

4:50 p.m.: Some of the voters who cast ballots at Glorious Hope Missionary Baptist Church at the corner of Napier and Brookdale avenues in Macon spoke of bringing change to government.

On Tuesday afternoon, Sean McCoy, 46, a construction worker, said, “Every vote counts. All of them. … I wanted to count and make a change, a big difference. We need change in our life.”

Embray Patterson steps out of his voting precinct at Glorious Hope Missionary Baptist Church on Napier Avenue in Macon. Joe Kovac Jr. jkovac@macon.com

Another voter, Embray Patterson, a civil-service worker at Robins Air Force Base, said things “going on in the state” compelled him to vote.

“I want things to be better for citizens,” Patterson, 40, said.

Though he did not say who he voted for in the governor’s race, Patterson said President Donald Trump was a factor in getting him to the polls.

A warning outside the voting precinct at Glorious Hope Missionary Baptist Church on Napier Avenue. Joe Kovac Jr. jkovac@macon.com

“The divisiveness that he puts out to the country, I don’t agree with that,” Patterson said.

“But I just want to see a change. I think by voting today, that gives me an opportunity to make a change.”

Macon voter Chanel Causey-Lowe after casting her ballot at Glorious Hope Missionary Baptist Church on Napier Avenue. Joe Kovac Jr. jkovac@macon.com

Voter Chanel Causey-Lowe, 41, said Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams inspired her to vote.

“I look up to her,” Causey-Lowe, a certified nursing assistant, said. “I felt like this election was very important, that we all get out and vote. … I feel like my vote’s gonna count.”

— Joe Kovac Jr., reporter

3:30 p.m.: “The voters actually met us here at 6 a.m.” said Theresa Harris, voting location manager at Mikado Baptist Church on Houston road.

She said over 1,000 people had voted by 3:00 p.m.

“We have had heavy, steady turn out all day long.” said Harris.

Voters at the Porterfield Baptist Church and Mikado Baptist Church polling stations talk about their experience voting and what they thought about this year's election.

Some said that they came out the polls simply because they felt like it was an expectation and obligation.

“It is a responsibility of us citizens.” said Ray O’reilly.

Most of the voters said that they were most interested in the Governor’s race between Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams.

“The governor especially, that is the main one,” Calvin Watts said. “I needed to get out and vote.”

Justin Baxley, reporter

3:17 p.m.:

2:43 p.m.:

1 p.m.: At the Howard 7 precinct at Northside Christian Church on Northside Drive in north Macon, 654 people had voted, said poll manager Michael O’Neal.

“It’s been busy,” O’Neal said. “We had a line at 6:20 (a.m.), and it almost wrapped around the church. We allowed them to come in and fill out their paperwork. They didn’t mind waiting until 7 o’clock to vote.”

He said it was a larger turnout than what he’s used to seeing. The reason: “I think it’s just the atmosphere this year that’s driving people out for the election — either way (they vote),” he said.

— Linda S. Morris, reporter


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1 p.m.: About 500 voters have already cast their ballots at Dr. Robert J. Williams Complex At Ballard Hudson on Anthony Road, according to polling volunteer Maria Whitby. Lines were moving smoothly around midday, with a steady flow of voters streaming in and out.

Some traveled to the polls on their own, but many came with friends or family members, Whitby said.

Timiko Lamar voted with her son, George Lee Gibson, who brought along his 1-year-old son for the occasion.

“I voted ‘cause I feel like I should make a difference, you know,” Gibson said. “I got to be heard, so, you know, I think my opinion counts.”

Gibson said he’s never missed an election. He’d rather get out and vote than sit at home and complain about things out of his control.

His mother has skipped midterm elections in the past, though.

“We didn’t know how important it was,” Lamar said.

But she knew she couldn’t wait until the next presidential election to make her voice heard this time around. Lamar’s more aware of the issues affecting her city and state now, she said.

“I’ve educated myself, and I want to make a difference,” Lamar said.

George Lee Gibson, left, and his mother Timiko Lamar, right, vote at the Dr. Robert J. Williams Complex At Ballard Hudson with Gibson’s one-year-old son, Lamar Jones. Samantha Max smax@macon.com

Mercer University freshmen Phoebe Capps and Mellie Trager were also excited to exercise their civic duty. Both 18, Tuesday marked their first election of voting age.

“I’m scared that I’m going to mess up,” Capps said with a laugh before casting her vote.

Trager worries about the voices that won’t be heard in this election. She said some students who registered during move-in at school never received confirmation of their voter registration.

But she and Trager felt confident that most of their friends would vote on election day.

“We’re a new generation, and we have a voice now, so we’ve got to use it,” Trager said.

Mercer University freshmen Phoebe Capps, right, and Mellie Trager, left, vote in their first election at the Dr. Robert J. Williams Complex At Ballard Hudson in Macon. Both are 18. Samantha Max smax@macon.com

Edith Shellow did her research before voting Tuesday. She wanted to be prepared.

“Love the Internet, because the Internet was wonderful this year,” Shellow said. “It was, like, excellent, because everyone had the information out. It was very easy.”

Shellow arrived at the polls with an orange piece of paper outlining the details of the different referenda, so she wouldn’t forget any details. The volunteers at the polling place were helpful, too, she said.

“The people at the Board of Elections here from Macon-Bibb, they’re very sweet, and they will explain any- and everything to you, without biases,” Shellow said.

Edith Shellow votes before work on Tuesday at the Dr. Robert J. Williams Complex At Ballard Hudson. Samantha Max smax@macon.com

—Samantha Max, reporter

1 p.m.: James Ashley and Cynthia Mosley stood alongside Watson Boulevard at the Warner Robins Recreation Department voting precinct holding signs supporting democrats on the ballot.

Ashley said he has campaigned at the precinct before, and this election looked different.

“I’ve never seen it this busy out here before. I’m thinking this is a very important campaign for people to keep coming out here to vote,” Ashley said.

Keyonia Young voted at the precinct and said its an important election.

“This vote really matters this year,” she said.

James Ashley and Cynthia Mosley campaign outside the Warner Robins Recreation Department precinct on Tuesday. Ashley said he has campaigned at the location before and this was the busiest he had seen it. Wayne Crenshaw wcrenshaw@macon.com

— Wayne Crenshaw, reporter

12:52 p.m.: “There was a line at the door as soon as we opened,” said Clayton Leirer, voting location manager at the Warner Robins Recreation Department voting precinct.

He estimated that about 200 people voted within the first hour of polls opening.

“There’s been a constant flow ever since,” Leirer said.

Shortly before 1 p.m., 745 voters of the 8,500 eligible to vote at the Recreation Department precinct had cast their ballots Tuesday, Leirer said.

“More people are definitely voting in this election,” he said.

Leirer said he expects that this election may outpace voter turnout in the last presidential election.

“We don’t know yet ... It’s looking that way,” he said.

— Becky Purser, reporter

Warner Robins Recreation Department voting.jpg
Voters fill out paperwork before casting ballots Tuesday at the Warner Robins Recreation Department. Becky Purser bpurser@macon.com

12:10 p.m.: A steady pace was reported at the Veterans High School precinct in Houston County.

“It was really busy this morning at 6 and started dwindling down at 9,” said Stephanie Dixon, poll manager.

Of the 5,094 registered to vote at the Veterans High School precinct, 599 had cast ballots Tuesday by the lunch hour, she said.

Only one voter who had showed up at the wrong precinct chose to submit a paper ballot, Dixon said. The others chose to travel on to the correct precinct once that was determined.

One man was turned away from voting because he had not voted in two years and had not early registered, Dixon said. He was registered to vote in the next election before leaving the precinct.

— Becky Purser, reporter

Veterans High school voting.jpg
Carolyn Childs, a poll worker, helps a voter Tuesday at the Veterans High School voting precinct in Houston County. Becky Purser bpurser@macon.com

11:30 a.m.: The fast pace when polls first opened had slowed to a steady stream of voters, said Tyler Johnson, precinct manager at the Houston County Annex Building.

About 100 people were already in line when the polls opened earlier, he said.

By late morning, 410 of 4,202 voters eligible to cast ballots at the Houston County Annex Building had done so on election day, Johnson said.

“It’s been steady,” he said.

No issues reported, but a few voters had showed up at the wrong voting precinct, said Jonathon Manzullo, assistant precinct manager. “We’re a lot slower than others,” said Manzulla.

— Becky Purser, reporter

Houston County Annex voters.jpg
Voters make their way to the Houston County Annex Building about 11:20 a.m. Tuesday. Becky Purser bpurser@macon.com

11:00 a.m.: As a steady stream of voters continue to file in to Bibb County precincts, supporters of Democrat gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams are hitting the streets.

A second wave of volunteers arrived at Abrams campaign headquarters at 1343 Georgia Ave., to get instructions on how to canvass neighborhoods or work the phone bank.

“We have almost canvassed everything that was assigned to us,” Abrams campaign worker Elaine Johnson said. “Thousands of household doors have been knocked on this week. So this final push is to make sure we get everybody that we possible can get out.”

Since Macon has been covered, crews were headed to Jackson and Fort Valley to boost turnout.

Johnson was on board with Abrams shortly after the Georgia House Minority Leader announced her campaign

“She has detailed plans for everything that she intends to do to make this a better state,” Johnson said.

Other Abrams campaign canvassing crews will depart at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. - Liz Fabian, reporter

As voters go to the polls in Georgia’s highly competitive governor’s race, volunteers for a Democrat Stacey Abrams are continuing to campaign. Crews were scheduled to leave from her Macon campaign headquarters in four intervals Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018

9:30 a.m.: Turnout has been so heavy in this midterm election that voters had trouble accessing Howard Community Center’s precinct off Forsyth Road just north of Bass Road.

“I’ve never seen a governor’s race like this before,” said Macon-Bibb Board of Elections chief registrar Veronica Seals. “This is like presidential elections.”

Macon-Bibb Board Elections supervisor Jeanetta Watson said the morning traffic near Howard High School is typically heavy and was even more congested with voters early Tuesday.

“I figured it would die down after a while,” Watson said.

Just as early voting produced record numbers, the amount of voters at the polls in the first few hours of voting has elections officials optomistic about Tuesday’s turnout outpacing other years.

In spite of the lines, no major problems have been reported although a steady stream of people showed up at the board of elections asking questions about where to vote.

“It’s been going pretty smoothly,” Seals said.

Watson had feared the potential for severe weather would thwart turnout and operations, but there is only a slight risk for a strong thunderstorm Tuesday afternoon.

“We were worried about power outages and relocating and having a backup plan,” Watson said.

An overnight blackout near the precinct at Forest Hills@Ridge church was resolved before polls opened, she said.

The voting machines have battery reserves of up to four to five hours so an outage won’t stop votes being cast.

Watson hopes Tuesday’s vote will be decisive.

“Somebody’s going to win and somebody’s going to lose. I just hope whoever wins, wins by the margin of victory with no recount or run-off,” Watson said.

She was ecstatic voting is going so smoothly in Bibb County.

“This is biggest (midterm) turnout in history, to my knowledge, in Bibb County,” Watson said. “I’ts really good to see people get really involved.” - Liz Fabian, reporter

8:40 a.m.:

8 a.m.: The line outside Mabel White Baptist Church was about 50 strong one hour into voting.

“You should have seen it earlier,” one poll worker said. “The parking lot was full at 6 a.m.”

Dozens of clipboards were handed out so that voters could fill out paper work in line.

The cue moved pretty quickly, said voter Johnny Smith.

“It went pretty smoothly because they were passing out clipboards. ... Efficient. I like that,” said Smith, who declined to say how he voted.

He arrived at about 7:30 a.m. and was leaving about an hour later.

“I don’t even have to be at work until 10,” Smith said. “Now I have time to play and get a second cup of coffee.”

One married couple paused as they left the church.

The wife unleashed her pony tail before they smiled for a selfie with their “I have voted” stickers. - Liz Fabian, reporter

About 50 people line up outside Mabel White Baptist Church on Bass Road to cast their ballots in the midterm election. Liz Fabian lfabian@macon.com

7 a.m.: About two dozen people waited in line at polls at the Forest Hills United Methodist Church in Macon.

Within minutes the line more than doubled as voters scurried in to cast their ballots on the way to work, including a few dressed in medical scrubs.

Poll Manager Don Card said the turnout so far in the midterm election is comparable to the 2016 presidential race.

“We’ve got a small place and can’t get everybody in,” Card said.

The parking lot was full at the church a block off Vineville Avenue and cars were lining the street.

Although there was a reported power outage in the neighborhood, Card said the lights were on when he arrived at about 6 a.m. - Liz Fabian, reporter

6 a.m.: Many Georgia voters will see a rainy Election Day with a slight risk of isolated severe storms in the afternoon.

The National Weather Service forecast for the Macon area shows fog is expected in the early morning before a chance of rain between 11 a.m-1 p.m. and rain likely between 1-4 p.m. and a chance of rain between 5-7 p.m.

The afternoon hours pose the greatest chance for the storms to have potentially strong to severe winds between the hours of 1-4 p.m.

The rain is not expected to be particularly heavy. The National Weather Service projects up to .07 inch of rain before 1 p.m. and an additional .15 inch between 1-7 p.m. - Liz Fabian, reporter

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