Did Usher Deserve Special Voting Treatment?
Usher at Toyota Center, November 2010
Photo by Marco Torres
The wire services and social media are abuzz this morning because the manager of Usher's Atlanta-area polling place is taking some heat for allowing the R&B superstar/Bieber mentor to skip the line on Election Day.
According to the Associated Press, Fulton County officials instructed poll manager Frank Padua to direct Usher to the ballot box "as quickly as possible." The "My Way" and "Confessions" singer then reportedly took a photo of himself voting and posted it on Twitter.
"I take the voting process very seriously, and I was just taken aback that this was allowed to happen," Usher's fellow voter Alan Christian told Atlanta's WSB-TV.
WSB's report added that while Christian had been waiting in line for 45 minutes, Usher, whose full name is Usher Raymond IV, was escorted in through a back door of the Bill Johnson Community Center in Roswell, north of Atlanta.
Somehow this did not sit well with Liz Hausmann, a Fulton County Commissioner who told the AP that she could think of a few other people who would like to be allowed to skip the line -- the elderly, those in wheelchairs and people with young children, for example. Padua's reasoning was that if he stood in line like everyone else, the singer could become a "distraction."
Usher, now 34, has not commented on the situation (his Twitter account is currently down), but it's understandable that he would want to do his civic duty without having to sign a bunch of autographs or otherwise get mobbed.
Usher's latest album, Looking 4 Myself, sold 128,000 copies and debuted atop the Billboard 200 chart when it was released in June. A month later his 11-year-old former stepson, Kile Glover, died following injuries sustained when he and a 15-year-old girl were struck by a personal watercraft on nearby Lake Lanier.
Usher is nominated for three American Music Awards -- Favorite Male Artist (Pop/Rock), Favorite Male Artist (Soul/R&B), Favorite Album (Soul/R&B) -- and is scheduled to perform alongside Bieber, Drake, Maroon 5, One Direction and others at the telecast next Sunday.
WSB said Usher's people did call ahead, and hey, at least he voted -- he was even showing off "I'm a Georgia voter" sticker to the media before all this hit the fan. Or is this just another case of a celebrity getting preferential treatment?
With an entourage of people around to do everything from driving them around to handling their financial affairs, voting is about the last thing stars like Usher are actually required to do for themselves (should they choose to do do). Pretty sure letting their assistant or manager cast their ballot for them violates some kind of election law.
Come to think about it, it's interesting that this kind of thing doesn't happen more often. Do other celebrities vote early, or absentee? Surely they vote. Right?