Early voting brings one million Black voters to Georgia polls

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ATLANTA (Reuters) - As Georgia wrapped up weeks of early voting on Friday for the Nov. 3 election, Black voter turnout had far surpassed the level seen at the same time in 2016.

Some 1 million Black voters have already cast ballots this year, up from 712,000 this time four years ago, according to TargetSmart, a Democratic analytics firm.

It is part of a rush to the polls in Georgia. More than 3.8 million Georgians had already cast ballots as of 5 p.m. on Friday, compared to 4.1 million overall in the last presidential election.

In Swainsboro, Georgia, the tiny election registration office building was the only early voting precinct, limiting entry to five voters at a time. A line of people stood at the street corner on Friday.

Jaquez Washington, 28, said his ballot “helps future generations get the treatment they deserve.” His aunt inspired him to vote, he said. “I just wanna be sure the decisions are in the right hands of the right people.”

Omar Ceesay, 41, took his 4-year-old daughter Aria to vote Thursday at the Gladys S. Dennard Library in South Fulton County, his first ballot ever.

“I want to provide for my daughter an example of what it means to stand up in this world and fight with your vote to change things which seem to work against you,” said Ceesay, who served in Iraq as a fire fighter with the Department of Defense before becoming an insurance claims adjuster.

Rashad Muneer, 31, a Black real estate investor and musician, also voted in South Fulton on Thursday.

“While I’d like to see the issue of reparations and other exclusive rights for people of color on the ballot, I use my power to vote for a more just and inclusive America. To be an activist doesn’t mean just protesting, but engaging all your civic duties, including voting,” he said.

Reporting by Katanga Johnson; editing by Heather Timmons and Cynthia Osterman