Georgia Voters Wait Hours Due to Problems at Polling Places
Malfunctioning machines and a missing power cord strand those trying to cast ballots in a close race for governor.
Local officials in Gwinnett County, Georgia said five precincts experienced problems with voting machines in the early hours of Tuesday, forcing people at one location to wait more than four hours to cast their ballot.
The precincts are located in the second-largest county in the state that voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the county since 1976.
The technical difficulties stymied voting in an already controversial and extremely close governor’s race between Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a Republican, and Stacey Abrams, a Democrat. Earlier this month, national civil rights groups sued the state’s top election official and Kemp for blocking 53,000 people from voting in the midterms, the majority of which were African American.
Officials in Gwinnett are facing two federal lawsuits because they tossed out more than 500 absentee ballots in the lead up to the election—more than 40 percent of the total of 1,200 rejected statewide. State officials said they rejected the ballots because of missing birthdates, address discrepancies, and mismatched signatures.
County spokesperson Joe Sorenson, who is in charge of overseeing a total of 156 precincts in the county, said four of the five locations started the day with malfunctioning electronic Express Polls machines.
One of those locations, Anderson-Livsey Elementary School, had a machine that was operating on battery power because the county had not supplied it a power cord in a pre-packaged kit.
“That one was on us,” Sorenson said. “The package didn’t come from the state. It came from the county.”
At Anniston Elementary School, also in Gwinnett County, polling managers noticed malfunctioning machines but did not begin handing out paper ballots, as is protocol, until hours later, Sorenson said. A judge ordered that location stay open an additional 20 minutes.
Local media reports show voters are still waiting in long lines, up to three hours, to cast their vote. But all of the machines that malfunctioned earlier in the day are now back online, according to Sorenson.
“In all these places the outcome was the same,” he said.