On the first day of early voting in Georgia, a mix of high turnout and technical glitches caused some voters to wait in hours-long lines, according to reports.
With three weeks until Election Day, Georgia voters are waiting in long lines to cast their ballots—with reports of wait times as high as three- or five-hours long in some districts.
Throughout the day, scenes from metro areas around Atlanta, Savannah, Augusta, and elsewhere showed high turnout that was, in some cases, made worse by technical problems at the start of the state’s early voting period. Images were reminiscent of Georgia’s primary elections, which saw similar technical problems and long lines.
State Farm Arena in Atlanta—the state’s largest early voting site—ran into a series of glitches involving voter check-in computers, resulting in long delays there. Early voters in Georgia are using the state’s new voting system that combines touchscreens with printed-out paper ballots. In other words, those casting their ballots can opt to review their votes on paper before dropping it into an optical scanner.
On Monday, the new voting machines showed an “invalid card” error to voters who inserted their voter access cards into the touchscreen machines. According to Fulton County Elections Director Richard Barron, poll workers at the arena had to reboot 60 check-in tablets and re-import voter information for those affected by the glitch.
The technical fiasco comes on the heels of a judge’s ruling on Sunday allowing Georgia to use the new voting system after election security advocates called for the state to stick to voting by paper ballots.
However, technical issues aside, lines are also likely due to an increased eagerness to vote early in this year’s election. According to the Washington Post, voters lined up hours before polling places opened in some suburban Atlanta counties. Monday is also a federal holiday, and many Georgia residents have the day off, potentially swelling the numbers of people at the polls today.
The US has broken early voting records this year, with over 6 million people already casting their ballots—more than 10 times the amount who voted early in the 2016 election at around the same time. With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and continuing questions about the influence of Trump’s Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on the USPS, many election officials and voting advocacy groups are calling people to vote early and in person if possible.
Eyewitnesses in Georgia are posting photos and videos to social media of the long lines in polling locations.
Early in-person voters will add to the 439,000 Georgia voters that have already submitted their absentee ballots ahead of Election Day. It is estimated that by Nov. 3 over two-thirds of the state’s 5 million people will have already voted for the presidential election between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
If you’re interested in voting early, you can find more information about your state here.