He gained national attention through his tenacity at a local polling place, refusing to leave even after others might have: Hervis Rogers was the last man to vote at his Texas Southern University polling place early Wednesday morning, and possibly the last person to cast a ballot in the State of Texas when he did so around 1 a.m.
Rogers, who works two jobs, arrived at the polls just before 7 p.m., and his roughly six-hour wait was tough, he said. But that didn’t stop him.
“It is insane, but it’s worth it,” Rogers said while waiting in line. “I mean, I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t vote. I feel like it’s— I voice my opinion, but it don’t feel right if I don’t vote. So I said, ‘I’m going to take a stand and vote. It might make a difference.'”
When he finally got to TSU, Rogers said he had already been to two other packed locations nearby. He had work at 6 a.m. Wednesday, and thought about just turning around to go home, but something came over him, he said, and he decided to stick it out. More than five hours later, he still sat in line, patiently waiting to cast a ballot for Joe Biden.
“I might be here about another hour,” he said at one point, before gesturing to another section of the line. “It might be another two hours, because that line is long right there. So I know it’s another hour. Let’s say 12, I know it might be 1 or 2 o’clock.”
“But it wouldn’t make no sense for me to walk away now,” he added. “I’m already here. It’s, go with the flow, and get it done, you know.”
Rogers was just one of hundreds of people who waited for hours to vote — not just at TSU, but around the county. Voter turnout was especially high for the Democratic primary, which saw numbers rivaling those of 2008.
On top of that, there were technical problems, particularly at TSU, where at one point a row of machines was accidentally disconnected by a poll worker.
Social media lit up with praise for Rogers on Tuesday night and early Wednesday.
“When it comes to voting in November, we should all be as passionate & dedicated as Hervis Rogers,” said Joyce Alene, a University of Alabama law professor. “American citizen.”
“Nobody should be asked to be this impressive,” wrote Atlantic staff writer David Frum.
Former First Lady Hillary Clinton even weighed in, referring to Rogers’ experience as “a poll tax.”
A seven-hour wait to vote is a poll tax.
We need to restore the Voting Rights Act and stop Republican elected officials from shutting down polling sites. https://t.co/qbGZRUctJM
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 4, 2020
One person summed up their thoughts on Rogers succinctly: “HERO.”
It wasn’t all bad, Rogers said: There was pizza, and water. At one point, someone passed around cookies. But in the future, Rogers said he planned to avoid the hassle of long lines by taking advantage of early voting.
But he also said that, no matter what, he wouldn’t miss his opportunity to cast a ballot.
“My point is this: Don’t complain,” Rogers said. “If you get out and vote, then you can say, ‘well at least I tried to do my part.’ But if your candidate don’t get elected, and you don’t vote, you can’t say nothing.”