Why did Usher get to skip the voting line?

9:54 AM, Nov 9, 2012   |    comments
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ULY 01: Recording Artist Usher performs onstage during the 2012 BET Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on July 1, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.

ATLANTA -- For many voters around Metro Atlanta, casting a ballot on Election Day meant spending time in line. A lot of time; wait times were reported at several hours in some locations.

But for singer Usher Raymond, that wasn't the case. The R&B/pop superstar was allowed to skip the wait at his Roswell polling location, moving to the front of the line to cast his ballot. Election officials defended the move, calling it necessary to keep the lines running smoothly and avoid any distraction a celebrity presence would create.

"Arrangements were made in advance so that he could get in and not be a distraction to the rest of the voters," said Sharon Mitchell, interim director of the Fulton County Department of Registration and Elections.

The department elaborated in a prepared statement, saying they were "given advance notice of Mr. Raymond's intent to go to his precinct the day prior to his appearance in the abundance of caution on their part to avoid any distraction to the election process."

The poll manager was instructed to take "necessary steps to move Mr. Raymond through the process as expeditiously as possible."

But Fulton County District 3 Commissioner Liz Hausmann was not quick to agree.

"I think it's extremely important to allow the handicapped to not have to wait, to allow the elderly to not have to wait, to allow people with small children preference," Hausmann said. "I'm not sure about celebrities."

Fulton County Department of Registration and Elections has come under fire this week for what Secretary of State Brian Kemp called a "debacle" of an election. Some 11,000 voters were forced to cast provisional ballots, with some precincts running out of the paper ballots.

Mitchell, who took over six weeks before Election Day, acknowledged that there were mistakes Tuesday, but said overall the county conducted a "good election."

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