THE NEUTRAL ZONE
Georgia began its primary elections today amid a long list of problems and delays that are leaving voters frustrated and politicians casting blame.
Voters in Georgia have been experiencing very long lines at the polls, as well as multiple issues with voting machines. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has announced he is launching an investigation into the faulty new voting machines. Workers at the polls claim that they received on-the-job training at the last minute after many experienced poll workers quit due to fears of catching coronavirus. Statewide Voting Implementation Manager Gabriel Sterling states that so far, there have not been complaints about faulty machines, but rather that employees operating them did not understand how to use the equipment. Sterling attributes the malfunctions to “counties engaging in poor planning, limited training, and failures of leadership.”
Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA) had promised to get absentee ballots sent to voters to help prevent the spread and ease fears surrounding coronavirus. Many voters interviewed at polling places claimed they never received their mail-in ballots, so they were forced to vote in person. In January, American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia Executive Director Andrea Young said, “They were issuing brand-new machines on a massive scale and that’s never been done before. You need to put in more resources, more training for poll workers, for citizens.” This election was the first time these 30,000 new machines were used. The 2018 gubernatorial race between now-governor Kemp and Stacey Abrams experienced similar technical difficulties and long lines, which caused the Fulton County polls to extend voting hours into the night. Fulton County will once again be extending voting hours until 9 p.m. EST.
Long lines, blame-trading in Georgia as five U.S. states hold primaries – Reuters – 6/9/2020
“I waited for three hours,” said Callie Orsini, 26, who added she stood in line with hundreds of people in Atlanta’s Midtown neighborhood on Tuesday morning. She said some people in line had requested absentee ballots but had not received them, and it took longer for poll workers to process them.
Georgia officials clash as long lines, voting machine problems plague primary day – Fox News – 6/9/2020
Gabriel Sterling, the elections official in charge of implementing Georgia’s new voting system, blamed local officials for the problems. “At the Sandy Springs Library there are 15 voting machines and they are still only allowing in 4 voters at a time. Fulton continues their history of problems in executing elections,” he charged on Twitter.
‘A hot, flaming mess’: Georgia primary beset by chaos, long lines – Politico -6/9/2020
Georgia is just the latest state that has seen widespread problems with holding an election during a pandemic. Longer than usual lines have been reported in cities across the country, with many forced to shutter some polling locations because of a lack of staffing.
Georgia election chief vows ‘honest’ vote as mail ballots smash records – The Hill – 6/9/2020
Georgia is a presidential battleground in 2020 and also features two competitive Senate races, giving the state outsized influence over which party will be in control of the upper chamber.
Adrienne Underwood on Twitter, 6/9/2020: Here’s a look at the new machines used in Georgia elections this year. At the door, voters are issued an “activation card” that’s then inserted in the yellow slot. After making their selections, their ballot is printed at the booth, then they walk it over to the ballot box
Raymond Tubb on Twitter, 6/9/2020: After fielding complaints about voting problems all morning I was in and out in under 10 minutes in my north #Macon #Georgia spot. The new equipment was quick and easy and I liked the electronic sign-in and printed paper ballot. #GAPrimary #vote
Jon Ossoff on Twitter, 6/9/2020: GEORGIA — They want to discourage you. They want you to give up and go home. It’s not right. It’s not just. STAY IN THOSE LINES. Defy voter suppression. VOTE so we can pass a New Civil Rights Act and a New Voting Rights Act to secure the franchise and equal justice for all!
Stephen Fowler on Twitter, 6/9/2020: At Cross Keys in DeKalb, @GeorgiaNewsLab reports a standstill. Machines weren’t working, so people voted provisional ballots — until they ran out of those. More than 900 out of ~5000 active voters voted early/absentee, too.
Keisha Lance Bottoms on Twitter, 6/9/2020: Let’s all work, hope and pray that this not be a preview of November.
LeBron James on Twitter, 6/9/20: Everyone talking about “how do we fix this?” They say “go out and vote?” What about asking if how we vote is also structurally racist?