Vanessa Manley put down the two American flags that she was waving and picked up a microphone. “Look at your neighbor and ask them, ‘Have you voted yet?’,” she said. Manley is the director of faith engagement for Warnock for Georgia and she was doing her best to fire up a crowd that was sitting under a hot sun in the parking lot of Victory Outreach Church on Metropolitan Parkway in Southwest Atlanta.
A group of just under 20 people were waiting to see Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock, who would not show after having spent the weekend at campaign rallies in Peachtree City Friday and in the Atlanta University Center Saturday. “We’re just coming to support our senator and let him know that we’re praying for him,” said Manley.
Minutes later a small van with video screens on either side pulled into the parking lot. Ricky Brown parked and stepped out while a video of Warnock speaking about the importance of early voting played on a loop. “It’s like a commercial but a lot cheaper,” said Brown who along with partners owns what he called the “video van” and leases his services to Democratic campaigns.
“We just want to make sure we get the visuals to people that we can’t reach through TV,” added Brown. “We want to encourage everybody to get out and vote.”
As of Saturday night more than 740,000 Georgians have voted early in-person, according to Secretary of State’s Office. In Fulton County, where the event took place Sunday afternoon, more than 96,000 in-person early ballots have been cast.
The gathering on Metropolitan Parkway was in no way close to the amount of supporters on hand in Peachtree City Friday afternoon and at SpelHouse homecoming Saturday, but it was equally as important to the Warnock campaign and to democracy to have events like this regardless the size, said Atlanta City Councilman Byron Amos, who took time to speak to the small crowd. “Because most of the people that are coming out to these events are still looking for information on voting,” said Amos of the more intimate and smaller setting local events provide. “Most of the people are still undecided.”
During what was labeled a ‘Souls to the Polls’ event, gospel music was played as a group of supporters danced to music and waved ‘Warnock for Senate’ signs. The fact that there were barely 10 people in the seats set up in the parking lot at the time didn’t seem to matter. “These events help them feel a part of the movement,” reasoned Amos.
Considering it was being held outside of a church, the event felt more like a church service with a number of guest speakers saying prayers before and after they addressed the crowd about early voting and “bringing five friends with them,” suggested Manley.
No Warnock, no problem. The message was similar to the one this reporter heard at other campaign stops earlier this week: Vote early, bring a friend.