World reaction to long queues of voters in US

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Some Texas voters got up early and still faced long lines on Tuesday

Long queues to vote in the US have been celebrated by some of those who endured them as a welcome sign of enthusiasm. But outside America, there was a different take.

You may think waiting 11 hours to vote would be the height of frustration, but not for one family in Georgia.

“We made it y’all,” says Johnta Austin in one viral video filmed as they reached the front of the queue, describing the lengthy process as an “honour”.

With early voting under way across much of the US, social media images show long queues of people, sometimes waiting for hours, patiently inching their way in line towards the polling booth.

Some African Americans, including journalist Roland Martin in Texas, say they wept when they discovered such a motivated electorate on the morning of the vote.

In a video that shows a Black Lives Matter sign on the building, Martin says he cried after finding a “massive line after the polls had been open 27 minutes”, and that he prepared to vote by listening to protest songs from this summer.

Many of the Americans taking to the internet to show their voting pride are black. They say their vote is a continuation of the civil rights struggle, which they feel has been invigorated by the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Souls to polls,” is one slogan being retweeted among the US black community.

In Georgia, where in person voting began on Monday, a federal holiday, some voters arrived before dawn to queue.

The state has a long history of voting problems but it’s not the first in this election season to see long queues on the first day of early voting. It was the same in Ohio and Virginia.

There is expected to be record turnout this year and an unprecedented number voting early due to the pandemic.

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Media captionLong queues as Americans vote early in the US election

Voters in Atlanta, Georgia, cited the death of local congressman John Lewis, who was beaten while marching for equal rights in Alabama.

The city’s mayor on Monday tweeted a quote by Lewis, who died in July: “The vote is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have.”

According to the the state’s vote counters, a record 126,876 Georgians cast early ballots on Monday, including at the NBA’s State Farm Arena.

With three weeks to go until election day, it’s estimated that some 11 million Americans have already voted.

Republican-run states have faced legal challenges for introducing rigorous ID checks and new rules like witness signatures.

Republicans say these measures are necessary to address voter fraud. Democrats accuse them of trying to suppress voters.

The long queues have prompted a huge global reaction.

One Canadian commenter in Ontario wrote that unlike in the US, a nonpartisan national commission runs the elections.

Another Canadian wrote: “I’ve waited longer for a bus than I have ever waited to vote.”

A British man wrote: “Dear USA, I’m 58 and not once in my life have I had to queue to vote. Sort it out!”

Another person suggested that election monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe should intervene.

One man in India pointed out that his country handles more election ballots than any other democracy in the world.

In a country with a higher level of illiteracy than the US, no such long queues have been seen in previous elections.

In Texas, where early voting began on Tuesday, social media users were reminding each other to come prepared with water, a chair and snack.

“Texas! Get in line early tomorrow! And vote! Yes! Turn the tv off! Eat a good breakfast at 5am! Take water! Chair! Umbrella! And stay in line!” wrote one man.

In Austin, Texas, crowds reportedly cheered when their polling stations opened in the morning.

One Doctor Who fan in the UK found a humorous way to summarise the American voting experience.

Some accounts have offered freebies, including food and art, to people forced to wait in line for hours.

One company called Pizza to the Polls, says its goal is “making democracy delicious by delivering free food for all to polling places with long lines”.

They’ve been scanning Twitter for locations to deliver pizzas, and claim to have sent 2,418 pies so far in 2020.

Some people say the long queues show voter enthusiasm, but others say it is the result of a process that has intentionally been complicated in order to stifle voting among some historically disenfranchised communities.

In response to researcher Brandon Tozzo’s question about polling times in other counties, an Irish woman wrote: “20 minutes but that was because I met a neighbour, then a friend, then knew the returning officer so said hello, then finally voted.

“Took another hour to leave the polling station, nothing like an election for Irish people to get a chance to chat.”

Respondents in Norway, Germany and other European countries said there were numerous places to drop off ballots ahead of time and that unlike in the US, most polling locations were a short walk from home.

From Germany to Israel, people also reminded Americans that unlike in the US, voting occurs on holidays and weekends.

In Australia, some people said the queue to pick up the customary “Democracy Sausage” after the vote is often longer than the queue to vote itself.

“Plus the chat with sausage vendor can add half an hour,” wrote one Twitter user. Another said: “In Australia – we pick the polling station with the best BBQ, not based on wait times.”

What exactly is a democracy sausage?

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