February 5, 2008
ATLANTA (AP) -- Georgia elections officials say voter turnout appeared to be high across the state Tuesday for a Democratic presidential primary with especially intense interest among blacks and a Republican race that could attract a wealth of independents to the polls.
Long lines were ommonplace in many areas. At a church in Fulton County, more than 50 people had lined up to vote before the doors opened and a pollworker there said she had never seen so many lined up so early. In Marietta, a line of voters stretched to back of a middle school auditorium.
The election is the first statewide contest in Georgia that required voters to bring photo identification to the polls, and delays were reported in some places as officials checked records.
The vote has the potential to surpass the 1988 presidential primary, when about 40 percent of the voters turned out. More than 600,000 Democrats cast their ballots, fueling a Jesse Jackson victory. On the Republican side, about 400,000 voters turned out, giving George H.W. Bush a win over Bob Dole and Pat Robertson.
Alan Abramowitz, an Emory University political science professor who studies voting behavior, predicts as many as 700,000 people could vote today in the GOP primary and 800,000 in the Democratic contest.
The campaign of Democrat Barack Obama said it is asking the state to keep at least one precinct open late. Adora Andy, a spokeswoman for the Illinois senator's campaign, said one Atlanta-area precinct opened late and should not close as scheduled at 7 p.m. She said the campaign is considering whether to push for longer hours at other polling places where voters faced long lines.
State officials said staffers are working to fix "isolated" problems. A campaign watchdog group said some computers being used to verify voter identifications as part of a new state law crashed earlier in the day.
The Secretary of State's office said it dispatched staff and poll monitors to precincts that reported problems.
At a precinct at one Atlanta residential building, voting was delayed when only one of five voting booths were working and election workers had to hand out 75 paper ballots.
There are complaints of murky campaign tactics as well. Obama's campaign also said it is investigating complaints that elderly people in Atlanta got calls offering to allow them to vote by phone, which is not permitted.
(The Associated Press)