FULTON COUNTY, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — Residents who went to the precinct at Park Tavern in Piedmont Park to vote in the Georgia primary election said they knew there could be a long wait, but for many of them, it far exceeded their expectations and last nerves.
They said the long lines chipped away at their patience and confidence in the voting system, after waiting anywhere from three to five hours to cast their votes.
“Fortunately, it was a little overcast and halfway manageable, but no one should have to stay line for over two hours to exercise their human rights,” said Daniel Barker, a local resident and voter who said the issues at the polls were “utterly unacceptable.”
Among the reported problems happening around Georgia: machines not working, polls opening late, and residents who have said they never received the absentee ballots they requested, which is one way they could have avoided the lines.
“After a month of not having received it, I went online and discovered that it had been mailed, but had not made it to me,” Barker said.
Much worse, it’s all happening during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We live in 2020. We should be able to vote online. I tried to get an absentee ballot. I applied well in advance, never received it,” said Laura Hall, another voter.
For many voters, the problems are raising suspicions.
“I don’t know if the Secretary of State is incompetent or if they’re trying to suppress votes, or what, but they need to get this sorted before November,” Hall said.
“Fulton County failed in the processing of the absentee ballot process,” said District 1 Fulton County Commissioner Liz Hausmann, who is also a liaison for the Secretary of State’s Secure the Vote initiative, which promoted the state’s move to the paper ballot system.
She said there are training issues among the poll workers handling the machines.
“Where I was voting, for the first hour, they were not putting the cards into the machine properly,” said Hausmann, also adding there are several things slowing voters down.
“The combination of new equipment, some lack of training and then the pandemic and all the social distancing and the health measures that are in place have added to the delay,” she said.
This is after she said the county invested $15 million into getting new voting machines, extra workers and additional facilities.
Now, after countless complaints, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says he has launched an investigation into the election processes in Fulton and DeKalb Counties.
Despite it all, some voters said they weren’t surprised by the long lines.
“With all of the things going on in the community right now with George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, I expected this today, and I was ready,” said Energe Zamir, another voter, who referenced several recent homicide cases that have sparked outcries and protests around the nation.
They said when it comes to casting their vote, they’re willing to wait as long as it takes.
“I was ok with it. My ancestors died for this opportunity,” Zamir said.
“I hope this many people and more come out in November and do their civic duty. It’s really important,” said Hall.
Officials said people who were still waiting in line when the Fulton County polls closed would still be allowed to vote. The Superior Court of Fulton County also extended the voting hours until 9 p.m. State officials have also said they would start the process of counting the votes after all of the precincts were closed statewide, and they said that process could take a few days.