Volunteers get voters to polls, watch for snags in Richmond County
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Polls opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday for the runoff in the Georgia Senate race, and a nonpartisan group had its eyes and ears on polls – and feet on the streets – in Richmond County.
The New Georgia Project sent hundreds of volunteers to monitor more than 620 polling sites across the state, including some here.
Plus the group had people going door to door in Augusta and elsewhere trying to convince people to vote as incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock battled GOP challenger Herschel Walker.
“We’re just out here engaging voters, encouraging them to show up for the runoff election today, and we’re trying to give them any assistance we can,” said Marcus Plumlee, a canvasser who was trudging through the rain to knock on doors in Augusta.
Plumlee was among 450 canvassers from the group’s 18 field offices across the state. By 3 p.m., they’d knocked on 27,882 doors, but they hoped to knock on a total of 40,000 in one day.
Stephanie Jackson Ali said: “The issues continue to be poor signage. For those signage issues that means we’re having to have volunteers in the area put up signage.”
In addition to making sure people are going to the right polling location, canvassers with the New Georgia Project are out having conversations with voters about why they should vote.
Since July, they’ve had conversations with 87,000 voters across the state.
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Plumlee said: “One of these two candidates is going to represent them in the U.S. Senate for six years, and this is their chance to have their say.”
The group helps voters with logistical issues, too.
“We help people find their polling location if they don’t know it or any other problem they might have,” Plumlee said.
For people on the fence about whether to vote, Plumlee was telling them it was important to make their voice heard.
“Voting isn’t like marriage; you’re not looking for ‘the one’ – you know, the person who’s going to solve all of your problems,” he said. “Voting is public transportation. It may be flawed, but you’re just trying to get closer to where you want to go.”
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The group provided 630 free rides to the polls during early voting and got 250 requests Tuesday in metro Atlanta and Chatham and Richmond counties.
“If they need a ride to the polls, we have vans going out, giving people a ride to the polls,” Plumlee said.
Simran Jadavji, another member of the organization, said:
“We have a phenomenal team of staff and volunteers that are ready by the phones today arranging rides for anyone who needs one, especially senior citizens.”
The group’s poll monitors found most things going smoothly across the state, although they saw some confusion due to polling location changes where polling sites weren’t clearly marked.
“The issues continue to be poor signage,” said Stephanie Jackson, policy director for the nonpartisan group. “For those signage issues, that means we’re having to have volunteers in the area put up signage.”
Turnout seemed pretty light at some local polls we checked, Plumlee blamed the rain, but it also could have been because of the record-breaking volume of early voting last week.
The group describes itself as a “nonpartisan effort to register, civically engage, and build power for New Georgia’s majority black, brown and young voters.”
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