Former ESPN sportscaster Jemele Hill says she’s unsure if her vote will be counted after she arrived at her Florida polling place to find her name had been purged from the voter rolls.
Hill, now a staff writer for The Atlantic, recalled checking her voter registration multiple times before flying cross country to early vote in Florida, where she purchased a house in 2006 “to have a place to call home.” Still, there was something that set her spidey senses a-tingling.
“I traveled across the country to vote, rather than voting absentee,” she wrote in a column published Tuesday. “That’s how much I needed the reassurance of physically handing in my vote. Think of this paranoia as the post–traumatic stress of more than a century of blatant, consistent efforts by the right to undermine, discourage and disenfranchise people of color.”
Hill arrived at her designated polling site ahead of Election Day and learned that she’d been kicked off the registered voter roll, with little explanation as to why. She was allowed to fill out a provisional ballot, however, and handed a sheet of paper with contact information for the Orange County supervisor of elections’ office so that she could track her ballot.
It wasn’t long before the mystery of her bilked registration started to unravel.
“Shortly after I left the polling site, an official from the elections office called me and told me that a tweet I’d posted a few weeks earlier had been brought to their attention,” she wrote.”
The tweet in question, posted Oct. 21, stated Hill’s intentions to fly home from Los Angeles to vote for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum. The tweet supporting Gillum racked up more than 34,000 likes and 63,000 retweets in a matter of days.
Despite the fanfare, the former sportscaster insisted she wasn’t trying to persuade folks to vote for the Democratic candidate but to vote period, as this year’s midterms were “the most serious election of my lifetime.”
“I wanted people to know that voting in this year’s midterms was so important to me that I’d cross time zones just to make sure I participated in our democratic process,” Hill wrote.
She continued: “I pressed the official who called me from the supervisor of elections’ office about how my tweet had landed on their radar. He said, ‘Let’s just say it was a red brigade.'”
Hill argued that had she voiced support for Gillum’s opponent, Ron DeSantis, instead, her right to vote likely wouldn’t have been questioned. Her biting words against President Donald Trump, who she dubbed a “white supremacist” earlier this year, have also made her a target of his die-hard supporters.
“The fact is, you’re a high-profile person who has political enemies,” Richard Hasen, a professor of law and political science at UC Irvine told Hill. “The president has influenced passions about voter fraud, so people in the public eye will be watched very carefully. Everybody is looking for a ‘gotcha’ to see if a prominent person across the aisle is committing voter fraud.”
Hill agreed, saying while she believed Trump wasn’t to blame for trying to suppress her vote, “I wouldn’t put it past his ardent supporters.”
In the end, the elections official who contacted Hill determined there was no evidence that she had committed voter fraud. As for whether her provisional ballot would be counted, that’d be left for the supervisor of elections to decide.
“My spidey senses don’t know what to make of that,” she wrote.