Two days before Rome City Commissioner Wendy Davis’ last election, a car wreck nearly scuttled her chance to cast a ballot.
“Someone ran me off the road and I hit a wall,” she said. “So a lot of things can interfere with your plan to vote on Election Day. I encourage you to not wait until the last minute.”
Davis, a member of the Democratic National Committee, appeared with two other state leaders Thursday in a virtual press conference hosted by the Biden for Georgia campaign.
The event — aimed at urging people to turn out for the current election — came a day after a poll showed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has opened up a 7-point lead over President Donald Trump in the state.
Biden is leading the incumbent Republican president 51% to 44%, according to a telephone survey of 1,040 likely Georgia voters conducted Oct. 8-12 by Quinnipiac University. That’s well outside the poll’s margin of error of plus-or-minus 3%.
But Davis said the urgency remains.
“We know we can’t listen to the polls because polls don’t vote, voters do,” she said during the virtual press conference. “We’re not taking anything for granted. We’re reaching out to voters in ever corner of the state, including my community of Rome.”
State Reps. Brenda Lopez Ramero, D-Norcross, and Dar’shun Kendrick, D-Lithonia, also participated.
“There’s only 19 days until the most consequential election of our lifetime,” Kendrick said, adding that voters who run into problems at the polls can call 888-730-5816 for assistance.
Lopez Romero said Georgia has over 800,000 newly registered voters since the 2018 midterm election and Latino citizens are showing up in the early vote numbers.
“Of those who have already cast their ballots, 41% have never voted before,” she said.
The record turnout, combined with the COVID-19 pandemic, led to long lines at early voting sites this week. However, the option will be available through Oct. 30 and wait times are already becoming more manageable.
Some who initially requested absentee ballots are deciding to vote in person instead. Davis explained that it’s allowed, once the voter signs an affidavit swearing not to use their mail-in ballot as well.
“Then the poll worker will take a few extra steps on the computer ... it’s part of the system of checks and balances we have in place to secure our elections,” Davis said. “Don’t be afraid of the word “affidavit.” It sounds scary, but it’s just a simple form.”
The Quinnipiac University poll also gave Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jon Ossoff a 6-point lead over Republican Sen. David Perdue.
In Georgia’s other Senate contest, a special election with a huge field of 21 candidates, the poll showed Democrat Raphael Warnock in first place with 41% of the vote.
The two leading Republican candidates, interim Sen. Kelly Loeffler and U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, appeared to be battling for second place and a spot in a likely runoff. Collins was in second place with 22% of the vote, with Loeffler running third at 20%.
The last Quinnipiac Georgia poll, released Sept. 29, found the presidential race too close to call, with Biden holding a narrow 3-point lead, within the poll’s margin of error.
That poll was taken before the first presidential debate and before Trump was diagnosed with coronavirus.
“For Trump, 2016 is a distant memory, defeating Hillary Clinton by 5 points when the polls closed then, and now down seven to Biden with three weeks to go,” Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Tim Malloy said. “Warning lights are blinking red and alarms are going off in the Peach State.”
Georgia has been a dependably Republican state in presidential elections since before the turn of the century. The last Democrat to carry the Peach State was Bill Clinton in 1992.
The last Georgia Democrat elected to the Senate was Max Cleland in 1996.
Other polls released in recent weeks have shown both the presidential contest and the Perdue-Ossoff race essentially tied, within those polls’ margins of error.