by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Footage showing long lines of enthusiastic early voters in a Georgia county drew predictable cries of “voter suppression” from Democrats and Twitter pundits, while election experts said such allegations were baseless and lacked context.
A 70-second video of the line to cast early votes at Gwinnett County station on Monday, shared by an Atlanta Journal Constitution reporter, had racked up over 7.5 million views on Tuesday, with plenty using the footage of those waiting to decry the system.
Democrats seized on the opportunity as a PR stunt to promote their own legislation and cast the long line as evidence of Republican voter suppression.
“Republicans have spent decades making it harder for Americans to vote, and we’re watching the results play out in real time,” Senator Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) tweeted, pivoting to promote his own piece of legislation — which would pay voters $100 to wait in line for at least 90 minutes. …
… But none of the reactions made note of the fact that the Gwinnett line formed on the first day of early voting, after months of corporate hype about the importance of early voting, nor that it fell on a federal holiday. Neither was it mentioned that Georgia saw a record 126,876 people vote on Monday — a 41 percent increase over the first day in 2016.
Some tried to offer nuance on the viral clip. “Long lines in the first two hours of early voting are not actually indicative of a problem or too few polling locations. Do not cover them as if they are,” ProPublica reporter Jessica Huseman, who regularly covers elections and voter data, tweeted.
As independent journalist Jeryl Bier calculated, Gwinnett County’s nine early voting stations will be open from 7a.m. to 7p.m. for the next 19 days, amounting to over 1,800 hours of early voting time.