by Naomi Thomas
During the first hours of voting, only a few voters turned up at the Athens Transit Multi-Modal Transport Center.
One of the first was Marie Stafford, 55, who came by on her way to work but went away disappointed. According to the poll worker at the check-in desk, she is actually registered at Precinct 8C, on Barnett Shoals road, and they asked her to head to East Athens.
Stafford was definitely not happy, and speculated that she’d been sent away “because they know I’m going to vote for Hillary.”
A minute later, Jerrie Toney, 62, arrived. Toney is legally blind and got a ride to the polling place with a friend.
Poll workers quickly set up adaptable equipment, including audio devices and headphones to allow Toney to vote.
“I think it’s more work for them than it is me because they usually have to set it up,” she said. The equipment is packed away until a visually impaired voter arrives, then poll workers quickly set it up. Toney gets up early on Election Day and is glad the equipment is available.
“At least I can vote on my own, I don’t have to depend on anyone helping me vote,” she said. “It’s very simple, self-explanatory and, if your used to using the audio devices, then voting is not difficult.”
Elise Laudry, 29, was another satisfied voter. Although this was her first time voting at the Athens Transit Multi-Modal Transport Center, everything went smoothly.
“It was easier than in the past, the lines were shorter,” she said. Laudry has voted in other elections and at different polling places, and says her voting experiences have been “pretty much” perfect.
Wyukia Coleman, the poll manager of precinct 4A, has been working at the polls on and off since the early eighties. As well as assisting voters with disabilities, such as Toney, Coleman troubleshoots whatever else comes up regarding registration and casting ballots.
“It pretty much goes smoothly on regular elections,” she said. “This one today is going smoothly.”
One of the most common problems is that a person has moved but failed to change where they’re registered to vote. Sometimes Coleman and her team can resolve the problem by sending the voter to their correct polling place. If they’re registered at a distant location, however, the poll workers set them up with a provisional ballot.
Regardless of their personal voting experience, everyone agrees that exercising their right to vote is what counts. “I believe it’s important to at least have a say,’ said Toney, who voted using special audio equipment. “I think everyone should go out and vote.”