October 31st, 2008
04:15 PM ET
5 years ago

Unprecedented wait times plague Georgia voters

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Long lines plagued Georgia polling places this Halloween.
Long lines plagued Georgia polling places this Halloween.

ATLANTA (CNN) – The scariest part of this Halloween for some Atlanta voters is the unprecedented wait time at area polling stations, where heavy turnout and computer problems are leading to delays of 2 to 10 hours.

At a downtown Atlanta location the wait was up to four hours Friday as the line stretched down three blocks according to CNN’s Rusty Dornin, who was in line herself at the location.

And that location isn't even the longest wait for voters in that county. According to Jessica Corbitt of the Fulton County Office of Community Relations, at the Welcome All Center in South Fulton County the wait was five hours long.

Three thousand people have voted at the Adamsville location, according to Beverly Isom, executive aide to Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin. Isom told us that those at the front of the line at 4 p.m. had been waiting to vote since 9am, and that hundreds more have signed up and continue to wait in line. Crowds are reported to be orderly and patient - but are weary of the six-hour wait.

As in many jurisdictions, if voters are in line by 7 p.m. then they will be able to vote. Corbitt said “obviously the voting will go long past 7 p.m.”

In DeKalb County, northeast of Atlanta, officials estimated that up to 19,000 people will vote today, as lines at polling stations continue to wrap around buildings and down city blocks. Mary Frances Weeks, administrative assistant to DeKalb County Director of Elections Linda Lattimore, tells CNN that at the dozens of county polling locations the wait is an average of 3 hours. As of yesterday according to Weeks, 134,153 people have cast early ballots in DeKalb County.

The Gwinnett County board of Elections office tells CNN that their longest wait time is up to 10 hours at their Grayson highway location, and an average of five hours at their other four locations.

As turnout continues to race toward record-breaking numbers, Democratic officials continue to press Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel over her decision not to extend early voting hours.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's editorial board criticized the move earlier this week, writing that “state and local election officials should be making every effort to accommodate citizens who obviously want to exercise their country’s most sacred right.”

Handel responded with a Thursday op-ed in the paper affirming her decision. “Georgians can be assured that my office is not going to attempt to change the rules to accommodate the political whims of groups or newspapers less than a week before Election Day,” she wrote.

A number of voters have called in to the CNN Voter Hotline to complain about the long lines in Georgia.

“Vote times in excess of seven hours which is absolutely ridiculous and horrendous,” Mitchell Silvers from Lillburn, Georgia told the Hotline.

Another Gwinnett County caller, Donovan Noble, was worried he wouldn’t be able to get in his vote by the end of early voting on Friday because his voting location was only accepting voters until 4:30 p.m.

“There is no way that all the people out there are going to be able to vote,” said Noble.


Filed under: Georgia • Voter Problems
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. Mike Dunbar

    I can't believe Karen Handel and Sonny Perdue won't extend the early voting hours. Can't wait to vote them out of office. If I get a chance, that is...

    October 31, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  2. Dave from Menifee

    Why is this happening in mostly Republican ran states?

    October 31, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  3. d n dc

    voter SUPPRESSION!!!!!!

    October 31, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  4. Bridg

    Hang in there Georgia! Don't let the Repugs suppress your votes.

    October 31, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  5. NC FOR OBAMA/BIDEN

    IF IT MAKES ANYONE FEELS BETTER, I WAITED ABOUT 4 HRS YESTERDAY WITH MY BABY IN MY HANDS. EVERY ONE FELT SORRY FOR ME, BUT IT WAS WORTH IT.
    OBAMA/BIDEN '08

    October 31, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  6. Karl Clark

    We've now made the case that voting should...must be accomplish over several days, possibly weeks in large metropolitins. Having to wait in line for 3+ hours is criminal. Get it together Georgia.

    October 31, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  7. brian

    Harsh. Move to northern Idaho – it took me like 5 mins to vote for Obama.

    October 31, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  8. ulric

    Me being a lame at this have heard about the record turnout of voters for months now. i see no reason why preparation wasnt made for this inhumane situation. i guess africa and other third world countries are doing a better job than us the super power when it comes to time spent to vote. shameful. or becoz georgia is red state and the election doesnt seem to be going there way so ita tactic to discourage democratic voters. god is not a sleeping god. obama will still win this election

    November 1, 2008 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  9. ulric

    If you have to wait that long to exercise your to vote it shows the devisive nature of the powers that be to supress votes to entrench themselves in power

    November 1, 2008 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  10. babe40

    That crazy that the wait time is 10 hrs

    November 1, 2008 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  11. Georgia voter

    I waited over 7 hours in Gwinnett County, we really want to turn georgia blue.

    November 1, 2008 03:25 am at 3:25 am |
  12. phil/dallas

    America, wake up!!!
    We can not just sit back and watch this, and not respond.. History tells us all, the right to vote has been paid for. We must not stand on the sidelines, and watch the south fall back to the "Jim Crow" south of old, filled with hatetred and bigitry. Everyone knows the lines with these unexceptable long waits are only in the Afro-American communites. We all know what this its all about..... "The Disenfranchisement of the Afro-American vote" and everyone must join together and stop this. Not in 2008!!!!! CNN do your part........

    November 1, 2008 03:55 am at 3:55 am |
  13. phil/dallas

    Any state, that fails to do everything, and I stress everything it can to ensure all Americans that feels motivated to cast his/her vote in this historic election should feel the full weight of the law. CNN we in america need to know why would they close the polls @ 4:30p.m.?

    November 1, 2008 04:16 am at 4:16 am |
  14. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    The election problems will ALL be in heavily Democratic areas, especially if the areas are under GOP-control. Make book on it!!!

    November 1, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  15. ulric

    It the reponsibility of the fourth estate to investigate and report why it taken that long hours for americans to exercise their right to vote. it seem like devisive way to supress democrate and paticularlly minority votes. please cnn look in this and report to us.

    November 1, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
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