Election Day Updates: Voting In Georgia And Michigan
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
Two states, approximately 2 million headlines wondering which way they'll go - Georgia and Michigan. The candidates have spent plenty of time in Georgia trying to woo voters. And last night, just as he did four years ago, President Trump held his final campaign rally in Grand Rapids, Mich. We are going to speak to reporters in both states now. Stephen Fowler is with Georgia Public Broadcasting in Atlanta.
STEPHEN FOWLER, BYLINE: How's it going?
KELLY: Well, thank you, so far. But the night is young. And Abigail Censky - she's with member station WKAR in East Lansing.
Hey there, Abigail.
ABIGAIL CENSKY, BYLINE: Hi there.
KELLY: All right. So let's start in Michigan because, Abigail, I know you have been out and about today in Lansing. What are you seeing, what are you hearing in terms of turnout and everything else today?
CENSKY: You know, there weren't a lot of lines in Lansing, and that's been largely true across the state. You know, that doesn't mean that there's not high enthusiasm. As of this morning, more than 3.1 million people had already voted absentee. And that means we're on our way to a potentially record turnout here, higher than even in 2008, when more than 5 million Michiganders voted.
KELLY: And I want to hear what both of you are actually hearing from voters who are in line today to cast their ballots. Stephen, who's coming out to Georgia - to vote in Georgia, and why?
FOWLER: Well, you know, Mary Louise, interestingly enough, not that many people are showing up to the polls today in Georgia. We had a record 3.9 million people vote early and through absentee ballots, which is nearly the same amount of people that voted total in the 2016 presidential election. But the people that are coming to the polls today say they are motivated by the race for the White House, both U.S. Senate seats being on the ballot and, really, issues like health care. Like, we talked to Joe Smith in DeKalb County just outside of Atlanta, and he said that the coronavirus pandemic has been an equalizer in motivating people to the polls.
JOE SMITH: The pandemic just happens to be the one thing that can touch every single life, you know, whether you're a millionaire actor like Tom Hanks or if you're like, you know, you and me here in Sagamore Hills.
KELLY: All right - that voter there in Georgia. Abigail, let me put the same question to you. As you speak to voters, who are you seeing out and about trying to vote today? And what are they telling you?
CENSKY: Well, I talked to a lot of voters who were worried about putting their ballot in a drop box or just mailing it back in, so they wanted to vote in person. That was the case for LaJamia Lane. She was out to vote in person in Lansing with her 14-year-old stepdaughter. And she sent this big group text this morning encouraging people to vote, especially fellow Black voters. This is what she told me.
LAJAMIA LANE: 2020 itself - I don't want to feel like my vote is going to be changed. I want to make sure that my vote is actually counted. So I feel like even though COVID is a big deal right now, in person was the best way to get my vote out there.
CENSKY: And, you know, of the more than 500,000 people who had voted in - by Monday that didn't vote in 2016, a lot of those voters were under 35 and voters of color - so kind of the exact electorate that LaJamia's trying to recruit. And I can say that Kamala Harris was also outside of Detroit today trying to send that same message to Black voters here - that they can drive the outcome of this election in Michigan.
KELLY: All right. I want to put this next question to both of you, and that is when we might know who won your state, what the results are going to be. Stephen Fowler in Georgia, I wonder, is all that early voting you were just telling us about - does that mean a lot of votes are already in, we may actually get results known in the not-too-distant future from Georgia?
FOWLER: Well, that's right. You know, Georgia's Republican secretary of state approved several rule changes to make it easier to count votes earlier. Two weeks ago, counties were able to start processing these record absentee ballots, so we should have most of those results in the same as the in-person votes that happen on Election Day. And if we continue to see lighter in-person turnout in Georgia, that means the vast majority of the votes here have already been cast, making it easier to be reported. And so while we're expected to have close races here in Georgia, we should know the direction of many races up and down the ballot before we go to bed tonight.
KELLY: Abigail, quickly, in Michigan, it sounds like results will likely not be known today. Is that right?
CENSKY: Yeah, it's the polar opposite here. We can't actually start counting our absentee ballots until Election Day, and that's over half of our projected vote at this point. So our secretary of state says it could be until Friday for Michigan.
KELLY: That is Abigail Censky with member station WKAR in East Lansing, Mich., and Stephen Fowler of Georgia Public Broadcasting in Atlanta.
Thanks so much to you both.
FOWLER: Thank you.
CENSKY: Of course. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.