Georgia Voters Wait 8+ Hours in Line To Vote Early
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Georgia Voters Wait 8+ Hours in Line To Vote Early

Black Americans voting
Voters in Marietta, Georgia waited almost 12 hours to vote early. Image: Twitter/ @natemook

The beginning of in-person voting in Georgia included hourslong lines, a technical glitch at a voting supersite, and a last-minute court ruling.

The state of Georgia usually leans Republican, but the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor have led to a renewed focus on the Black Lives Matter movement and with that, a new focus on voting. Voters in the state have been returning mail-in ballots for weeks, but Monday was the first day of early in-person voting.

The day included a few glitches that slowed voting at one supersite and in other locations voters were forced to wait for more than eight hours to cast their ballot.

Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s state secretary, announced 126,876 Peach State voters cast their ballot on Monday, a record for the first day of early voting. More than 425,000 ballots have already been cast in the state through mail-in voting according to Catalist, a data analytics site.

“Georgia is seeing record turnout for early voting because of excitement and enthusiasm of the upcoming election,” Walter Jones, a spokesperson for the Georgia Secretary of State’s office told CNN. “Long lines are to be expected—voters need to be aware of all of their options including three weeks of early voting, no-excuse absentee, and in-person voting day of the election.”

Images and video of long lines across the state filled social media sites Monday. Viola Hardy said in an interview on Monday that she got in line around 6:20 am and was still in line at 11:15 am.

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” I think people are really just ready to vote and it doesn’t matter how long it takes, we will stand in line to vote,” Hardy said.

The long lines have led some Democrats to raise allegations of voter suppression. Early voting at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, home to the Atlanta Hawks, was delayed for about an hour and a half Monday after a technical issue with the electronic poll books that are being used to check in voters.

Steve Koonin, president and CEO of the Atlanta Hawks and the State Farm Arena, told CNN the issue caused lines to get longer but was solved quickly. “I am very upset that we were put into this position, that’s why we required people on-site and I’m glad to say it got resolved quickly.”
Koonin added that election workers were forced to reboot 60 electronic poll books Monday morning. “The cards were being rejected by the machine when a few voters put their cards in, and they were rejected,” he said, referring to the verification of voters’ identities before they cast ballots.

Federal Judge Rules Voting Machines Will Be Used

On Sunday night, a federal judge in Georgia ruled the state will continue using voting machines known as ballot-marking devices. The ruling denied a request to require hand-marked paper ballots for all voters.
Ballot-marking devices are voting machines that allow a voter to use a touchscreen to pick their candidates. The machine then records those selections on a separate paper ballot.
In her 147-page opinion, federal Judge Amy Totenberg admitted there are some real flaws with ballot-marking devices, but added it was too close to the beginning of in-person early voting for her to order such a sweeping change to the election system.
The suit was brought by election integrity activists who said the only way for a safe election was to have voters mark ballots.
“Despite the profound issues raised by the Plaintiffs, the court cannot jump off the legal edge and potentially trigger major disruption in the legally established state primary process governing the conduct of elections based on a preliminary evidentiary record,” Totenberg wrote.

Early Voting In Georgia Skews Toward Black Americans

Catalist data shows Georgia currently has the smallest share of ballots cast by white voters. The state also has the largest share of ballots cast by Black voters, a key Democratic voting bloc, among these key states.

Additionally, Black voters have currently cast a greater share of pre-Election Day votes in Georgia compared to this point in 2016. Black voters currently represent more than 35% of early ballots, up from 29% four years ago. White voters have cast a smaller share of ballots ahead of the election, dropping from 68% in 2016 to 58% currently in the Peach State.

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