ATLANTA —Robbin Wright, 53, is a cancer survivor who has to head to the doctor’s for a checkup after she votes today. But she feels like there’s so much at stake this election that she’s driving her three grown children—aged 20, 26, and 31—back to the polls later in the day, as well as any elderly residents who need a ride in Adamsville, a predominantly black neighborhood in Atlanta.
“So Democrats can have the majority,” says Wright, who voted for Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn and gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter. She’s angry with the way that opponents of Obamacare have tried to block the law and will be trying to get her own coverage under the law. “If I can afford to get it,” she says. “I will hopefully be able to get it.”
While there were a few younger voters, some with small children, waiting to vote in Adamsville, many of the voters waiting in line Tuesday morning were older residents who say they show up for every election. Wright wishes younger people were more civically engaged.
“They don’t even understand it, because you know what, so many people died for us to have the right to vote,” says Wright. “Even in Alabama, they burned down the first black church that was going to hold elections there, they don’t understand how many people died, just for us to be able to come and have a voice in what goes on.”
Democrats in Georgia hope that the state’s changing demographics will help put them over the edge, as the state has seen recent growth in black, Hispanic, and immigrant groups that have traditionally leaned demographics. Outside groups like Democratic State Rep. Stacey Abrams’s New Georgia Project have registered about 86,000 new voters, about 60% of whom were under the age of 30 and 44% of whom are between 18 and 25, Abrams said.
There’s been a concerted push to register and turn out younger voters as well. Rock the Vote held a concert in downtown Atlanta on Monday night, where a crowd of approximately 4,000, mostly young, black Atlantans, showed up to hear rappers Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan.
Neither of the rappers registered in time this year to vote in Georgia’s election. But they say they plan to vote in future elections and hoped the concert would help more people become politically engaged.
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Young Thug wanted his audience to know “it’s okay to vote and know what’s going on in the time, which is now, because you should honestly know what’s going on. Especially dealing with the IRS,” he told msnbc. When asked to elaborate, he said: “Uncle Sam really wants your money, you know, I want mine too.”
The rappers said they regretted not having registered to vote before Georgia’s October 6 voter registration deadline. Young Thug last voted for President Obama in 2008; Rich Homie Quan thought that his 15-month stint in jail for burglary precluded him from voting. “With me going to jail, I thought I couldn’t register to vote,” he said.
It will be too late for 2014’s candidates, but both rappers are now registered to participate in future elections. “Next year our voice will be heard,” said Rich Homie Quan, who said he’s looking forward to voting for the first time. “This will be the first one, so I’m very excited.”
At the Rock the Vote concert on Monday night, there were still some young voters who needed convincing.
It’s the first election that Chelsea Gordon, 18, is qualified to vote in, but the concertgoer will be sitting this one out, as she isn’t registered to vote and wasn’t planning on it.
“I’ve seen the commercials, but I’m not sure I’m interested in either of them,” said Gordon, referring to Senate candidates Michelle Nunn and David Perdue. She doesn’t feel like there’s anything new in this election. “It’s kind of the same thing over and over,” she said.
Marquez Davis, a 22-year-old college student, hopes that issues like raising the minimum wage will help encourage more young voters to get engaged, noting that Nunn has campaign strongly on the issue. Candidates like her are “meeting voters where we are,” he said, waiting for the concert to start.