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How Georgia voters see the Trump indictment

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The residents of Fulton County, Ga., hold a lot of sway these days. They vote in the most populous county in one of the most contested swing states. And soon, they may make up the jury pool in a criminal case against former President Donald Trump, who's expected to be booked in the county jail on Thursday. WABE's Sam Gringlas reports from one community north of Atlanta where politics have been shifting.

SAM GRINGLAS, BYLINE: Every Saturday, the town square in upscale Alpharetta transforms into a sprawling farmer's market. David Horst has a bag filled with fresh soybeans and dog treats.

DAVID HORST: I'm David Horst. And this is my pup, Momo (ph).

GRINGLAS: Momo is an old English sheepdog. David Horst is a registered Republican, like many voters in Alpharetta. But he hasn't voted that way for president in a while. And he's been keeping an eye on the Fulton County courthouse.

HORST: What's been building up is finally coming to fruition. It'll play out in the courts and hopefully it'll be fair.

GRINGLAS: Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis indicted Trump and 18 others for attempting to interfere with Georgia's 2020 election result. That year, Joe Biden was the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Georgia in three decades. Growing suburbs like Alpharetta helped propel that victory and will shape the election again in 2024. Horst is still weighing his vote next year.

HORST: I'm totally open to Republican. I'd like to have a Republican.

GRINGLAS: It sounds like if Trump is the nominee...

HORST: I'm out.

GRINGLAS: But otherwise, they have a shot to earn your vote.

HORST: Yeah, yeah. For sure.

GRINGLAS: Nearby, attorney John Bell is listening to a performance by the Fiddles of November.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GRINGLAS: Bell's also hoping for a different GOP nominee, like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. But unlike Horst, Bell will vote Republican no matter what.

JOHN BELL: The Democratic Party is doing permanent harm to this country.

GRINGLAS: More harm than the efforts to try and interfere with the election result?

BELL: I think in any election it's a worthwhile endeavor to investigate and make sure that the election was fair.

GRINGLAS: All reviews have found it was fair. But Bell thinks the Fulton district attorney is just trying to boost her profile and his tax dollars should be spent clearing the backlog of other cases.

BELL: So I think it's more of a political issue that the voters should decide.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GRINGLAS: Lifelong Democrat Steve Cabot disagrees. He's got a shopping bag in one hand and his dog Wrigley's (ph) leash in the other.

STEVE CABOT: Finally, hopefully, he's going to have some comeuppance for everything that he's done wrong and the damage he's done to the country. People need to be held accountable for breaking the law.

GRINGLAS: Liz Butikofer thinks that's fair, as long as the courts look at the Biden administration, too.

LIZ BUTIKOFER: Let's hold everybody equally responsible for their actions.

GRINGLAS: Butikofer is wearing a yellow and orange floral top, relaxing in the shade. She's from northeast Georgia, a mountainous corner of the state that voted overwhelmingly for Trump, and says this indictment is only solidifying his base.

BUTIKOFER: It's just building the fire underneath his feet. And I think it's doing positive things for his run.

LISA VAIL: You brought your bag, excellent. That's a good produce.

GRINGLAS: Under a white tent, Lisa Vail is selling fresh peaches, blackberries and tomatoes.

VAIL: My husband and I were talking about it, and I had a thought that maybe someone like Brian Kemp maybe should run.

GRINGLAS: That's Georgia's Republican Governor Brian Kemp, who rebuffed Trump's demands to help overturn the 2020 election result.

VAIL: And I thought that took a lot of bravery for somebody in the Republican Party to do that under those circumstances.

GRINGLAS: Inspecting the blackberries for sale is Maya Ellison. She hasn't followed the criminal case against Trump much, but Ellison remembers what it felt like when he tried to wash away the will of voters like her.

MAYA ELLISON: We've lived through so much history already (laughter), I thought they might have pulled it off.

GRINGLAS: Ellison admits she's grown a little cynical.

ELLISON: So I don't really have any hope that any true justice is going to come of this and if it's really going to make any type of change.

GRINGLAS: And this case will keep unfolding right as Georgia voters prepare to head to the polls.

For NPR News, I'm Sam Gringlas in Alpharetta, Ga. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Sam Gringlas is a journalist at NPR's All Things Considered. In 2020, he helped cover the presidential election with NPR's Washington Desk and has also reported for NPR's business desk covering the workforce. He's produced and reported with NPR from across the country, as well as China and Mexico, covering topics like politics, trade, the environment, immigration and breaking news. He started as an intern at All Things Considered after graduating with a public policy degree from the University of Michigan, where he was the managing news editor at The Michigan Daily. He's a native Michigander.