Elections hit some bumps in Augusta area and across Georgia
Wednesday, June 10, 2020
There were long lines and confusion at polling places across Georgia for Tuesday's primary election, with some people waiting hours just to cast a ballot.
And as the day turned to night, problems continued for some areas.
In the Atlanta area, five different counties extended hours at polling places after issues with new machines.
One precinct in Decatur just closed around 9:00 p.m. taking voters up until then. And to make matters worse, some people had to come in-person because their absentee ballots weren't processed.
The mayor of Atlanta is warning that this could be a preview of the general election in November.
The day started off a little bit rocky here at home, as well.
"We had two polling locations that were late opening up this morning,” said Lynn Bailey of the Richmond County Board of Elections.
Those two local polling places ran into problems, one opening almost two hours late because of equipment issues. Poll workers struggled to figure out the new voting system.
Bailey says the new voting machines were a learning curve, and poll workers faced issues setting it up. It set the Vineyard Church Precinct back about half an hour and South Point Church, back an hour and a half.
A judge granted extensions to keep the polls open later at both locations based on the time they lost.
And in Columbia County, Nancy Gay with Columbia County Board of Elections called it first-time jitters for poll workers.
"We've used the old equipment for over 17 years so that was like an old fitted glove, it ran well, we knew it,” Gay said.
While things started a little slow, all polling locations in the county opened on time. She says the biggest problem was actually confusion from the change in election day due to COVID-19.
"Here in Columbia County, we issued over 23,000 absentee ballots, and today, what has been challenging is canceling a lot of absentee ballots because people feel comfortable going into the precinct and voting in person,” Gay said.
For those who voted in person, the machines weren't the only thing different. Polling locations were stocked with hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, and markers six-feet apart on the ground.
Most voters say they weren't bothered by the changes.
"Hand sanitizer is a great thing and masks!” Helen Willis, a voter, said. "I really liked the new voting system. To me, it's much faster than the other way they had it.”
In fact, some said they kind of liked it.
"I loved the fact that we got a printed ballot and we were able to review it.,” Willis said.
Election officials say there were no other reported problems throughout the day once things got moving.