County defends allowing Usher to bypass election lines

by: Mike Petchenik Updated:

Usher sports his "I'm a Georgia voter" sticker at the Bill Johnson Community Center on Woodstock Road.

ROSWELL, Ga. - Fulton County elections officials are defending their decision to allow R&B superstar Usher Raymond to bypass long lines to cast his ballot on Election Day in Roswell.

Raymond tweeted pictures of himself voting at the Bill Johnson Community Center on Woodstock Road, including one picture that showed him in the voting booth.

"I take the voting process very seriously, and I was just taken aback that this was allowed to happen," said voter Alan Christian.

Christian told Channel 2's Mike Petchenik he'd been waiting in line for 45 minutes when he noticed poll workers escorting Raymond in through the back door of the precinct.

"At that point, he took his camera out, started taking pictures of himself in the booth, of his card and as he was voting," said Christian.

Christian pointed out that poll workers told him he couldn't use his cellphone or take pictures inside the polling place.

Georgia law states it's illegal to take picture or video inside a polling place, unless given consent by the poll manager.

In a statement, county elections officials told Petchenik that Raymond's team notified them on Monday of his intent to vote in person Tuesday.

"As a result, Poll Manager Frank Padula was directed to ensure that Mr. Raymond's presence would not become a distraction by taking necessary measures to move Mr. Raymond through the process as expeditiously as possible," the statement said.  "At no point was this decision made for preferential treatment, but to minimize and avoid a distraction at the poll."

The statement also said the pictures Raymond tweeted were not violations because he'd received permission to take them.

Petchenik reached out to Raymond's management team and to Raymond himself via Twitter for a comment, but has yet to receive a response.

Christian said if Raymond and the county were concerned about his presence causing a disruption, he should have voted absentee.

"If he wanted to make a media announcement, he could have stood in line like everybody else," Christian said.



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