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Georgia’s Long Lines

2020-06-10 10:32:55

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Chloe Mexile Benard got in line to vote in the Atlanta suburbs at 7:30 a.m. yesterday, according to The Guardian. She did not vote until almost noon.

Marneia Mitchell, a stationery designer in Atlanta, was starting her fourth hour of waiting in line when she told The Times, “It’s despicable.”

And Greg Bluestein, a politics reporter at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, called yesterday’s primary elections in Georgia “like nothing we’ve ever experienced.”

In several counties around Atlanta, voting machines malfunctioned, and thin staffing because of the coronavirus left fewer poll workers to deal with it. As a result, many Georgia residents had to choose between enduring hours in line or losing their right to vote.

Yesterday’s problems were worse than usual — partly a result of recently bought voting machines — but were also part of a much larger issue. In no other affluent country do citizens regularly have as hard a time voting as they do in the United States. Most of our elections are held on workdays, and a shortage of election equipment and workers often forces people to wait in long lines.

The waits tend to be longest for African-Americans. One study of the 2016 election, using smartphone location data, found that voters in black neighborhoods waited 29 percent longer on average than voters in white neighborhoods.

And as was the case in the 1950s and ’60s, Georgia has again become a battleground over voting rights. In the 2018 midterms, the state had the country’s longest waiting times, according to a Bipartisan Policy Center analysis. Republicans in Georgia, who control most of the state government, have frequently opposed efforts by Democrats to make voting more accessible.

It was not fully clear why yesterday’s lines were worse in the Atlanta area than elsewhere in Georgia. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, blamed local officials — who are heavily Democratic — and said they had not properly trained election workers. Local officials, in turn, blamed him, saying he had not provided adequate training resources. Virus fears among election workers and high turnout, after George Floyd’s killing, may also have played a role.

“No corner of the state had a fully functional voting experience,” The Times reported. Michael McDonald, an elections expert at the University of Florida, wrote: “I have never seen the scale of election failures happening in Georgia today. This does not bode well for November.”

In yesterday’s election results:

Senate Republican leaders have assigned Tim Scott of South Carolina, their only black member, to lead the drafting of legislation that conservatives could rally behind.

Republicans face a dilemma: For decades, they have built an image as tough on crime, and it has helped them win many elections, often by winning the votes of whites who previously voted Democratic. But public opinion has shifted significantly, amid growing video evidence of police brutality and racism, and Republicans are trying to figure out how much to change their stance. For now, several congressional Republicans have changed their tone but not yet supported new policies.

In other politics news:

  • President Trump floated a false theory that a 75-year-old man in Buffalo who had been knocked to the ground by the police was “an ANTIFA provocateur.”

  • A group of white counterprotesters in New Jersey, appearing in front of a pro-Trump sign, mocked Floyd’s death, with one man kneeling on the neck of another who was facedown on the ground. One of the counterprotesters was a corrections officers and was quickly suspended.

  • Democrats are increasing their pressure on Joe Biden to pick a black running mate.

Two weeks after Floyd died at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, he was laid to rest in Houston, in a grave next to his mother’s. Two rows of police officers saluted as Floyd’s coffin went past. (The Times recently profiled Floyd’s life.)

As the service began, the New York Stock Exchange went silent for eight minutes, 46 seconds — the length of time a police officer held his knee on Floyd’s neck. It was the longest moment of silence on the stock exchange floor in its 228-year history.

Daily coronavirus deaths in Brazil are now the highest in the world. Investors are fleeing. And President Jair Bolsonaro and his allies are under investigation.

In response to the chaos, Bolsonaro is raising the prospect of military intervention to protect his grip on power — an ominous prospect for a country that was under a military dictatorship as recently as the 1980s.

More on the virus: A Times graphic compares the death toll to the toll from historical disasters.

  • The founder of CrossFit, Greg Glassman, has resigned, after BuzzFeed News published the details of a call with gym owners in which he maligned Floyd and shared coronavirus conspiracy theories.

  • Paramount Television canceled “Cops,” the once-popular reality show that ran for 33 seasons and that civil rights groups criticized for its portrayal of African-Americans. Separately, HBO pulled “Gone With the Wind” from its new streaming service, but pledged to bring back the 1939 film that romanticizes the Civil War-era South “with a discussion of its historical context.”

  • Lives lived: Bonnie Pointer was there at the creation, when she and her siblings decided to form a vocal group called simply the Pointer Sisters. But before the 1970s were out, she had left the group to pursue a solo career. And then they hit it big, without her. She has died at 69.

IBM announced this week that it opposes using facial recognition for mass surveillance and racial profiling. We talked to our colleague Shira Ovide, who writes The Times’s On Tech newsletter, about the problems with the technology.

“Facial recognition is terrible at identifying people with darker skin,” Shira said, pointing out that some research found it has no better than a 50-50 chance. “And there’s a dangerous tendency to over-rely on this kind of technology, even when it’s not accurate.”

She added: “We don’t know when facial recognition is misused. What if law enforcement agencies use it to identify people who are attending peaceful protests, like the ones happening now? Do we want to live in a surveillance state where everyone is in a vast database and we can be identified on sight at a massive scale?” That, of course, is the situation that China’s government is trying to create.

A key part of the Sikh religion is providing free meals as an act of faith, and many gurdwaras — the places of worship for Sikhs — have large kitchens, ample numbers of volunteers and regular food donations from community members. Some gurdwaras serve more than 100,000 people every day.

This tradition has enabled Sikh communities across the U.S. to respond to the increase in hunger caused by the pandemic, while many food banks have struggled, Priya Krishna writes.

In the publishing world, a viral hashtag this week encouraged black and nonblack authors to compare their pay, in an effort to highlight inequality. One example: A white science fiction writer said he had received $3.4 million for 13 books — more than $260,000 per novel — while a black female author said she had received $25,000 for each installment of her award-winning science fiction trilogy.

In theater, more than 300 artists — including stars like Viola Davis and Lin-Manuel Miranda — published a statement that outlined how artists of color are unjustly treated.

Inspired by this clever interactive from Bloomberg about the best streaming bundles, we asked Adrienne Maxwell, an editor at Wirecutter, to offer advice to anyone who’s gotten rid of cable television or is thinking of doing so:

When trying to decide whether or not to cut the cord and what services to subscribe to, I think the first question anyone should ask is whether they still want access to live TV and, especially, sports. Hardcore fans who love to watch a variety of sports and want access to their local affiliate broadcasts are probably better off sticking with cable.

If live TV is not something you care about, then it really does come down to personal viewing preferences. The beauty of streaming is that you aren’t locked into a contract, so you can subscribe to one service for a couple months, get caught up on their exclusive content that you love, then cancel and switch to another service.

But if you’re more of a “set it once and forget it” type, I’d say some combination of Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ is likely to be the most satisfying for the most people.

Here is Wirecutter’s more detailed guide.

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Only state with a two-vowel postal code (four letters).

You can find all of our puzzles here.

Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. — David

P.S. Cooking for kids can be exhausting, especially if they’re picky eaters. The Times’s Kim Severson and Ted Allen, the cooking-show host, can help. At 8 p.m. Eastern today, they’ll discuss how to cook healthy family meals.

You can see today’s print front page here.

Today’s episode of “The Daily” is about George Floyd’s funeral.

The Times is providing free access to much of our coronavirus coverage. Please consider supporting our journalism with a subscription.

Ian Prasad Philbrick and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at [email protected].


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