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What Black Voters Are Saying

Fear of a Walker Win Motivates Black Early Voters in DeKalb

We spoke to residents about their hopes ahead of the Senate runoff election.

Early voting in Georgia is underway in the runoff election for the U.S. Senate, and Black voters are talking about their motivations. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Before, during and after the Nov. 8 midterm election in Georgia, Capital B Atlanta has been speaking with Black voters to share their stories. From the campaign trail to local events, “What Black Voters Are Saying” wants to document the issues most important to you. Want to share your story? Hit us up at atltips@capitalbatl.org

With a record-breaking opening weekend, early voting has commenced in Georgia for the extended battle for the U.S. Senate.

More than 500,000 voters — 7% of those registered — have cast ballots in the overtime matchup between Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican nominee Herschel Walker. 

By comparison, 233,252 voters cast ballots by the time early voting ended in Warnock’s 2018 runoff showdown with then-incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler. 

After a lawsuit led by Warnock himself, the polls opened early on Saturday in several metro Atlanta counties, and more than 156,000 Georgians cast their ballots over the weekend.

This week, Capital B Atlanta stopped by the DeKalb County Voter Registration and Elections Office to talk to early voters ahead of the Dec. 6 runoff. With concerns ranging from turnout to the looming possibility of a Walker win, residents shared their thoughts on the imminent election and what that means for the community.

Here’s what Black voters are saying.

Lisa Franklin, 56, Stone Mountain, corporate manager

“We can’t let [Herschel] Walker win. If he wins, that will be a slap in the face of all us Black people who work hard to overcome stereotypes. We need someone who is actually for the people, not just someone who looks like us.”

Shardae Lewis, 30, Decatur, bartender

“I hope people just come back out, because I know they say the turnout isn’t always that much in runoff elections. That’s my biggest concern, because I haven’t heard much since Election Day motivating people to come back out. All the commercials have stopped, all the ads are gone, and it’s almost like they don’t even care to continue reaching us.”

Johnny Bishop, 65, Decatur, retired

“As a Black man, I hope the outcome ends with [Raphael] Warnock as our senator. We don’t need a puppet whose strings are being controlled by a white, all-seeing master. What we need is not only a politician who stands up for us, but one who represents what we truly are.”

Mekole Chavez, 28, Lithonia, entrepreneur

“If Warnock doesn’t win, I won’t be surprised, because honestly the first election showed me anything can happen, but I would be disappointed. [Herschel Walker] stands on the side of anything that is against Black women, Black men, and Black people, period. I don’t see how he has even made it this far, but that’s just Georgia for you.”

Keisha Biggs, 38, Avondale Estates, stay-at-home mom

“My biggest concern is definitely voter turnout. I think people show up for Election Day and tune out to everything political after the decision is done. I definitely feel like Black folks tuned out the second [Democratic gubernatorial nominee] Stacey [Abrams] lost, so I’m worried if folks know to come back and that our work isn’t done.”

Charese Rucker, 29, Stone Mountain, hair stylist

“We need to finish the job. It’s that simple. Senator Warnock needs us, and we have to come back out and do what we need to do. It’s our rights on the line if we don’t, and I think that’s what I hope this outcome makes people realize.”