The Voting Experience
Council member Brown outlines his first time voting
Voting plays an invaluable role in our American political system. Whether it’s a vote for president or local boards and commissions, casting a ballot shapes the futures of cities, states, and the country.
With the 2020 general election coming up, this series will offer a look at the first-time voting experiences for members of the Atlanta City Council.
Next in our series is District 3 Council member Antonio Brown. His first-time voting experience was at Peachtree Street Church in downtown Atlanta.
“I spoke about this when I first came on to Council. I grew up Jehovah’s Witnesses, so we really never took part in the political process. I didn’t grow up with the understanding of Democrats and Republicans,” Brown said, noting his first-time voting was in Atlanta’s mayoral election in 2017. “It was a really interesting first experience because it was kind of liberating in a way. I had done something at my age — 32 at the time — where most people had already done for most of their life.”
He noted that the experience helped to teach him the importance of civic engagement at the local level.
“Before that, I cared more about the national stage and really more about who we were selecting as our Congress and as our senators and president,” he said. “That experience really showed me something different and I appreciated it a lot.”
In terms of young voters, he added there’s value in researching candidates and community issues before heading to the polls.
“Allow Google to become your best friend. Get on Google and research who your City Council is, who your mayor is, who your County Commissioners are, who your School Board is, where your neighborhood association is, and get involved in your NPUs,” Brown said, noting the 25 Neighborhood Planning Units (NPUs), which serve as citizen advisory councils that make recommendations to the mayor and Council. “And really become a voice to represent the people that in our current conditions feel are unheard. Right now, there’s a constituency of individuals, families and small businesses that feel unheard and we have a responsibility to ensure they are heard.”