In Chicago, where I was born and raised, the word was, “vote early and vote often.”
It was a mantra espoused by the then-Mayor Richard Daly’s notorious GOTV machine, known far and wide as the way to win elections. I say this somewhat tongue-in-cheek because without knowing it, I was exposed to the block by block strategy of politicking at a very young age.
I bring that up because I — and apparently tens of thousands of others — made sure to vote as soon as possible here in Georgia when early voting commenced on Oct. 12 and continue to enthusiastically do so.
As a matter of fact, records are still being shattered nationwide with regard to early voting in the 2020 Presidential election.
I voted at State Farm Arena, home of the Atlanta Hawks, which has been reported to be the largest in the state with 300 voting machines. The first day of early voting brought its share of angst, if not outright anger when a computer “glitch” shut everything down before it got started.
Compounded by Fulton County government offices being closed for a federal holiday, conspiracy theories started and would not stop until the dust cleared and voting began after a delay of about an hour.
The good news is very few people left and, those who did, vowed to return with a vengeance and more folk to vote. Mission accomplished and crisis thwarted, but not without its challenges.
The makeup of those in line was interesting enough that while waiting, I couldn’t help but realize that real and rumored voter suppression tactics were indeed going to backfire. And, from my point of view, it has.
All media, traditional, social, and online have been reporting for months if not years, the attempts to target Black people, the elderly, other people of color, and the uninformed to discourage voter participation everywhere but particularly in swing states.
The problem with these Machiavellian tactics is you can see them coming. And the last time I looked; you shouldn’t let Black folk know you have it in for them. That knowledge leads to preparation, organization, and execution.
About 90 percent of those in line with me looked like me. Reduction in polling locations, postal service massacres, dropbox invisibility, armed intimidation on election day be damned. Street protests have turned into eight-hour delays and more at early voting sites that just don’t and won’t work.
The moment appears to have turned into a movement of multigenerational participation in the electoral process.
I do not believe the reality of blood-bought ballots from our history and nostalgic speeches about yesterday’s violent and sometimes insidious tactics to stop us from taking advantage of our right to vote, resonates as much today as front row seats to the murder of our people as seen on the 6 p.m. news, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.
I sincerely hope what we are witnessing is an extraordinary awakening of what it really means to grasp the concept of real power can take root at the polls. I’m pretty sure that is clearly understood by Black women in Mississippi who elected Doug Jones to the U. S. Senate and Black folk in South Carolina who took Joe Biden from political extinction to front runner for the presidency.
When I looked around at State Farm Arena, I didn’t just see numbers and there were hundreds of people standing in line patiently, if not defiantly, waiting to cast their votes. I felt energy, I saw resolve, I heard Fannie Lou Hamer “being tired of being sick and tired.”
Whatever it takes we must bottle this and keep selling it long after this election. I am committed to doing my part.
Now the history connects to the present for all the same reasons.
Don’t wait for Nov. 3 to vote. Vote now! I just wonder about the vote often part. Oh, right. That’s just a myth, right?