Being blamed for election results in Georgia is something Black voters like Kelli Bronner have become accustomed to in recent years.
“Unfortunately, we tend to be the brunt of everyone’s, I don’t know, rage, for some odd reason,” Bronner said. “We tend to get the blame for a lot of things when it’s not necessarily us. And I don’t know how we address that.”
Bronner is a 46-year-old Union City resident and city of Atlanta employee who voted early on Monday in the U.S. Senate runoff race between Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock and his scandal-plagued GOP challenger, Herschel Walker.
She’s one of several Black early voters who said they recently cast their ballot for Warnock for the fourth time in less than two years. Warnock’s 2020 U.S. Senate victory came after Black voters helped him triumph in a runoff election win over then-incumbent GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler.
Black voters overwhelmingly supported Democratic candidates such as Warnock and Stacey Abrams on Election Day earlier this month, but Abrams lost her second bid for governor and Warnock’s race against Walker went to a Dec. 6 runoff anyway. As the results came in on election night, some out-of-state, pro-Democrat social media users began questioning how Georgia voters could allow this to happen.
“A runoff are you kidding?” one Twitter user tweeted on Nov. 9.
“How is this going to a run-off?” another said in a separate tweet. “Have the voters there not learned a thing about the candidates? (Did they choose at random??)”
Actress Yvette Nicole Brown was among the famous faces who slammed Georgia online.
“Georgia is trash,” Brown tweeted.
The criticisms are nothing new to Black voters who spoke with Capital B Atlanta. In fact, residents say they, too, are frustrated and understand the critiques coming from outside the state, but many — having voted in elections at every level — said the outcome wasn’t shocking. The knocks on Georgia voters? They’re used to it.
Audio engineer Jermaine Thomas was one of many Black voters who cast their ballots at the C.T. Martin Recreation Center on Monday night, where the parking lot was packed. He suggested the onus shouldn’t be placed on Black voters like him to save democracy every two to four years. “You can’t just blame one race or one society or one community for the outcome of an election,” Thomas said.
More than 301,500 people cast their ballots on Monday, setting a single-day early voting record for the state. Black voters in counties that lean Democrat played a major part in those early vote totals, representing more than 26% of all voters so far, according to the Secretary of State’s office.
For southwest Atlanta resident Kathy Curate, the most important political issue this election cycle isn’t inflation, crime, or affordable housing. It’s ensuring a Warnock victory.
Curate is a retired executive assistant and a grandmother who said she stood in line for 45 minutes at an East Point early voting location on Saturday before casting her ballot for Warnock. She hears the talk of “What’s wrong with Georgia,” and it doesn’t frustrate her
“Baby, we doing the best we can. When they redistrict, anytime they redistrict is for a purpose,” she said, alluding to Republican-led redistricting efforts in Georgia and nationwide aimed at building an advantage for GOP candidates.
Ben Hill native Rick Foster voted early for this Senate runoff, but says he’s not happy the matchup made it this far. However, the library worker was quick to point out that scrutiny directed at voters in Georgia is simply a matter of non-locals misunderstanding the political makeup outside the state’s capital city.
“Once you leave Atlanta, you’re in Georgia,” he said. “It’s heavily influenced by small towns where people have been coerced not to vote, or used to not voting — don’t believe that they have a voice. This is generation after generation.”
Ultimately, for voters like Bronner, the online debate, and talk of how involved Black folks should be is just a distraction from the most important factor: performing your civic duty.
“I don’t listen to the noise,” she said. “What I do is try to make sure those that are around me are doing what they need to do.”