ATLANTA – After announcing that 53,000 voter registration applications were suspended throughout Georgia, Reverend Ezekiel Holley went directly to his local election office in rural Terrell County to name the names of the voters concerned.
Since then, he has been browsing the list and helping them to qualify for the election. "If Stacey Abrams loses this election, it's because she's going to take the money from her," said Holley, who is the NAACP president of his district and warns about registration issues due to the long history of voter suppression in the government. The highly competitive campaign between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp against the Governor of Georgia has become an emotional struggle developed the right to vote. Thousands of Georgians are using their ballots and hours of lines at first polling stations. The fear is growing as to whether every vote counts.
The struggle not only touches centuries of tensions in the South on race and ballot box, but is also personal for the two candidates. She is a former state legislator and longtime voting rights activist who wants to be the nation's first black female governor. He is a white secretary of state who is responsible for the Georgian elections and is a conservative advocate of strict electoral laws
In a state that has not elected a Democratic governor in 20 years and elected President Trump in 201
Two controversies have ignited an already bitter election: the suspension of thousands of voter registration applications, most of them for colored people or immigrants, under a new state law requiring exact match between application and driver or social security documents; and the rejection of hundreds of postal votes in a minority-heavy county in suburban Georgia.
"We have an opponent in this race who has tried to steal the electoral rights of 53,000 Georgians," Abrams said this week in a community center in Grovetown, a small town west of Augusta ,
"Abrams wants illegal immigrants to choose our next governor," Kemp replied in a tweet . "It voted against citizenship lawsuits, filed a lawsuit to give voice to" non-citizens ", and even admitted to fans that their" Blue Wave "includes the" undocumented "in our state.
There are almost 7 million registered voters in Georgia – a record for the state
The drama has attracted the attention of voters who send their voting cards and stand in line to vote in droves early on – and who are as divided as they are Doing disagreements over who they should support, Thursday's early personal vote and absentee ballot were well on their way to surpassing 2016 presidential elections in at least two major counties in Atlanta – Cobb and Gwinnett.  Some voters said they would not do anything, I buy Abrams & # 39; accusations against the suppression of voters and they welcome laws that prevent electoral fraud.
"Look at this line," Chet Austin said. 90, a white retired poultry farmer who stood in the Cobb County early election site parking lot, pointing to a crowd of waiting voters, many of whom were African-Americans. "I do not see how she could say that, they have the same right to vote as I do."
On the other side of the divide: "He should resign," said Kelly Napper, 34, a black store manager from Cobb County, who reflects other critics of Kemp who said he could not be trusted to hold a fair election. "The fact that Kemp has access to the ballots – does not seem right."
Many misinformation fly. Kemp advocated the strict new "exact match" policy that led to many of the blocked registration applications. But it is local election officials, not the foreign minister, who accept or reject ballots and registration applications – and their interpretation of the law has changed across the state.
While Abrams has accused Kemp of blocking 53,000 Georgians before the election, Kemp has said that anyone with a suspended registration can vote in the November 6 elections as long as they provide the correct identification. Some fear, however, that the "exact match" law will be interpreted as meaning that only a voting officer with the rank of deputy registrar or a senior person has the power to exonerate a suspended voter in order to vote. How that will happen on election day remains to be seen.
Kemp, for his part, picks up the controversy to accuse Abrams of encouraging volunteers. He drew attention to remarks that Abrams made on October 9 during a performance in Atlanta with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) When Abrams said that this year's "Blue Wave" would include a diverse group, including women , Gays and "documented and undocumented" people. Abrams later clarified that she had not encouraged anyone to vote illegally.
"I do not know what's worse: working actively to undermine the rule of law by giving voice to illegal immigrants or lying to hardworking Georgians," Kemp tweeted. "Anyway, Stacey Abrams is too extreme for Georgia."
Kemp also accused the New Georgia Project, a group founded by Abrams, of registering more African Americans for most of the suspended applications. He said many of the applications submitted by the group were "sloppy". Kemp launched an investigation into the effort in 2014, but found no wrongdoing.
Kemp's claim that Abrams filed a lawsuit to allow non-Greeks to vote was not right, either. New Georgia Project was a party in a lawsuit last week – but Abrams is no longer affiliated with the organization, and the suit does not require non-citizens to vote.
There is no evidence of widespread electoral fraud in Georgia or elsewhere in the country
Both sides draw attention to electoral issues. Republicans hold telephone benches, knocking on doors throughout the state almost every day, and the Democratic Party of the State leads a polling hotline that triggered more than 2,000 calls last week. Voting activists are even working in the smallest counties to help voters correct their registrations or deal with a rejected absentee ballot.
Concerns about the suppression of votes have become particularly violent in some places.
In Gwinnett County – a suburb of Atlanta where about half of the population is African American, Hispanic or Asian American – hundreds of voting cards have been sacked due to errors in completing the envelope.
Rachel Tiven, a New York lawyer who works on a voluntary Democrats hotline, likened the legalese-covered envelope to Jim Crow's literacy tests, which allowed local election officials to ban African Americans from voting; if they could not take a written exam.
"If I write the wrong date and you throw away the ballot – that's an alphabetization test," she said.
In Jefferson County, district officials blocked a constituency representative group from a group of senior voters for a district-run senior center to polls for early voting Monday. In a statement, officials said political activities were not allowed during business hours.
But LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, which is impartial, called the action a "subtle" form of voter suppression. "Every time you block a person's choice, it's a voter suppression," she said.
The concerns have spawned at least four lawsuits from civil rights organizations. Kemp is accused of illegally cleaning hundreds of thousands of voters from state roles. Others oppose the exact match law and strict interpretation of the ballot language in Gwinnett County.
Another complaint focuses on the protection of naturalized citizens, some of whom are falsely identified as being ineligible.
Democrats also criticized Kemp this week for a video that produced his bureau, in which child performers are used to educate voters about early voting. In it, a white boy shows his identification and is allowed to cast a vote while an African American has to hold a preliminary vote because she does not have her identification with her.
The video was canceled this week. Kemp's spokeswoman Candice Broce said the diversity of actors should encourage participation, not the opposite. She said that the video had not been removed because of the criticism, but because it no longer says exactly about the availability of ballot papers in Spanish. Since the video was first published in 2016, Gwinnett County has been asked by the federal government to submit ballot papers in both Spanish and English.
As the election draws nearer, the campaigns work furiously, one voter at a time, turning their followers to the polls. At the voter hotline in Atlanta, Cyndy Whitney, an epidemiologist who volunteered on Thursday, came to the point with a caller who now wanted to know how to vote after her e-mail ballot had been submitted: "We would That's recommended you go to the polls and make early voting, "Whitney said.
Requesting another vote and filling out another form, she added, would create too much danger of another mistake – and another rejection – with less than three weeks The Choice
Ross Blackstone, 39, who knows is said he did not understand what the whole thing was about having chosen a republican ticket on Thursday in Cobb County.
"It's the simplest thing in the world," said Blackstone. "I moved last week. I did not know, what I should do. They took care of it in two minutes.
But Blackstone also had to contend with the vote – despite the fact that he had a degree in literature. "I made a mistake and had to fix it and do it again."
Gardner and Williams reported on Atlanta, Augusta, Ga., And Grovetown, Ga. Williams also reported on Terrell County, Ga.