In Decatur, Ga., they brought chairs, snacks and books as they waited to enter the polling booths for the first days of early voting. The line was so long, there was no way to see how long — except by helicopter view.

The determined voters stood not for two or three hours, but for many, 11 hours — anxious, as one told a reporter, “to get it over with.” Machine glitches — the term used by officials — slowed down the process. No answer from said officials about why these exact problems were the same ones which occurred during the 2016 presidential election, though not in other communities across town. It was a similar scene in Texas, where the hundreds of early voters lined up, breaking voting records. There, too, machine breakdowns, in addition to an abrupt shutdown of a website for online voter registration — traced to a mysteriously cut fiber line.

Many of the voters in the lines recognized these tactics, which worked well in 2016 to depress the African American vote in key states. Of course, the president has spent months insisting falsely that mail-in balloting is fraudulent and the election process is rigged against him. Those long lines? Evidence that his specious bloviating backfired, and that voters lined up to protect their votes against voter suppression.

Voter suppression has come a long way since Southern registrars demanded Black would-be voters pay a poll tax and pass a test requiring them to count the jellybeans in a jar. Today, voter suppression is a dark art of sophisticated dirty tricks shapeshifting into many forms — like the maneuverings of Republican-led legislatures shortening early voting hours and days and moving longstanding polling places out of reach of low-income citizens and communities of color. And this year, outright fraud in response to millions of Americans who embraced mail-in ballots as a COVID-19 safety measure.

The California GOP, in defiance of the secretary of state, designed and distributed fake mail-in ballot boxes — effectively diverting the votes of citizens who used those boxes. Equally horrifying was Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who sanctioned only one mail-in ballot box per county in a state where counties encompass hundreds of miles. Add all that to the mix of documented misleading robot calls targeted to Black and brown households — along with Russian bots flooding social media — English-only ballots, and voter ID laws, plus the physical intimidation promised by some militia groups threatening to patrol polling places on Nov. 3.

Heads up to President Trump: They’re on to you. Voting advocacy groups are beating back suppression efforts in court, and on the ground with an intense national campaign urging voters to make a plan to get to the polls. Basketball superstar Lebron James and former First Lady Michelle Obama have temporarily joined their independent voting organizations — together offering transportation, food and ready information during this two-week run up to Nov. 3. That’s in addition to James' and other athletes' successful effort to convert sports arenas like Atlanta’s State Farm Center into polling sites, complete with trained poll workers and glitch-free machines.

For all of the national dialogue and debate about the importance of the vote, America is one of only 11 democratic countries in the world that does not affirm the right to vote in its constitution. I’m heartened by the more than 16 million who, as of this recording, have voted early, thereby affirming their right with their feet. Make that 16 million plus one.