Gwinnett County family “pays it forward” for early voters waiting in long lines

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — It’s not often someone would be willing to wait 7+ hours to vote early and then return back to help those waiting the next day.

Three generations of one Gwinnett County family waited 7-and-a-half hours in line Monday, just to vote together. On Tuesday they went back out to their polling place to hand out Power Bars and water to others waiting in long lines to vote.

Ulanda Whitaker said her daughters, Sydney and Kennedy, wanted to help people who had been waiting a long time to vote by handing out snacks. The girls were not with their mom, brother, cousin and grandma and grandpa, as the family got in line together around 7:30 a.m. Monday.

“My parents have always instilled in me that it is important for us to vote as a family,” said Whitaker. With record numbers of people wanting to vote early, the family knew they would have to wait, but 7-and-a-half hours?

“It was the longest we ever had to wait but to me it was very important with all of the things going on in 2020,” said grandma Deborah Thomas.


At one point, grandpa and grandma started feeling weak, and it was 23-year-old Justice Thomas to the rescue.

“That’s why it’s important to have the younger generation with you, he ordered Chick-fil-A on Uber Eats and they delivered it to us right in line,” Debra Thomas said.

After some food, and moving through the line, “The closer we got the better we felt,” said grandfather Lewis Thomas Jr.

“By the time we got inside we were already rejoicing as if we had all put our vote in. That’s three generations actively making the decision that our voice counts,” said Whitaker.

“Our vote matters. You have an opinion. You live here, you want to see something change, you have an opportunity to help make that happen," said Justice Thomas.

“We don’t always get what we want, but I can say, we do get out there and put our vote out,” added Lewis Thomas.

All told, the family passed out more than 200 bottles of water and about 140 Power Bars. They said they plan to go back to the polls and take care of voters on Election Day.