October 29th, 2008
07:55 AM ET
14 years ago

Massive voter turnout, system kinks in Georgia

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/29/art.gasticker1029.ap.jpg caption="CNN's voter hotline has received several reports of long lines for early voting in the Atlanta area."]
(CNN) - Heavy turnout, sluggish computers and election official truancy were to blame for numerous reports of unbearable early voting lines in metro Atlanta, a spokesman for the Georgia secretary of state's office said Tuesday.

However, said spokesman Matt Carrothers, reports that the voting system crashed were "simply not true."

One voter in Duluth, Georgia, in Gwinnett County, called the CNN Voter Hotline on Monday evening to say election officials told her they had problems verifying voters.

"We just stood there," she said. "It was horrible and a lot of people missed work."

Though there was "some sluggishness" in the computer system Monday morning, the secretary or state's office and the Georgia Technology Authority worked out the kinks by mid-afternoon Monday, Carrothers said.

When polls closed Monday, 1.2 million of Georgia's 5.6 million registered voters – more than 21 percent – had cast ballots, Carrothers said. The secretary of state's office anticipated the strong turnout and has been preparing for this election for a year.

The sheer numbers would have been overwhelming on their own, but slow computers and a host of logistical and staffing issues compounded the problems, he said.

At one Fulton County polling station, election workers delayed opening the polls for two hours because no one had keys to the election machines. At another Fulton polling place, several election officials failed to show up.

There were also logistical problems at polling places in Gwinnett County, Carrothers said.

A woman in Centerville called CNN's Voter Hotline to say she had been in line for six hours.

"People are coming out saying they've been in line for eight hours," she said.

The woman calling the hotline from Duluth gave a similar account.

"I got there at 10:25 a.m.," she said. "I did not vote until 6 p.m."

In Clayton County, election officials requested to keep the polls open past 11 p.m., Carrothers said. CNN affiliate WSB reported that the Frank Bailey Senior Center in Riverdale accommodated voters until 1 a.m. Tuesday.

Carrothers said staffing issues caused the problems in Clayton County, and the secretary of state's inspector general sent a monitor to the county Tuesday morning.

"The wait times are now back to normal," Carrothers said Tuesday afternoon, explaining that the reports he's received indicate wait times are between five and 10 minutes across the state.

soundoff (174 Responses)
  1. TVC

    A lot of Obama supporters are voting early in Georgia. It will be interesting to see the number from Georgia on the 4th

    October 29, 2008 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  2. truth hurts

    well come to the republic of rigging party, the GOP, hold on tight the game is not over yet, watch out B we will take it from you

    October 29, 2008 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  3. George Dulo

    Despite the kinks all who are eligible to vote and want to bring about change must vote. the state election officials must enable the voting process,but every one who can vote must vote before or on the 4th of November.

    October 29, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  4. W Spivey Merritt Island, FL

    Ain't GA just grand? They are so far behind their foresight stinks.

    October 29, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  5. Bill

    The only reason this is being reported is because Georgia is a McCain state. Do you see any such reporting regarding an Obama state. Of course not....figure it out.

    October 29, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  6. Foreign observer

    Georgia is a Republican state where lots of things need a reform. Even the polling structure is outdated. Democrates will improve these issues when being elected.

    October 29, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  7. Bruce

    Once again the REPUBs are trying to RIG the polls. Ling lines and voting machines that flip your vote to a McCain vote.




    October 29, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  8. Eileen from Maine

    Amazing what people will do to suppress and discourage people from voting. It sounds like there were quite a number of election officials and staff and wouldn't even show up for the day.
    I would love to know what happens to these people or is just par for the course when there is a man with brown skin on the ballot.

    Most people cannot afford to lose a days work and/or pay by waiting in a line to vote for 6 or 8 hours.

    It is really a black mark on our Democracy right here in America.

    October 29, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  9. Dan, TX

    You mean it took them longer than expected to fix the machines for the republicans?

    October 29, 2008 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  10. Cry me a River

    The fun is just beginning. This election looks to be a huge one- how many "hanging chads" does it take to throw an election one way or the other? Stay tuned....

    October 29, 2008 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  11. Chris

    Amazing how all the problems in Georgia seem to be in parts of Fulton, Dekalb and Clayton counties that will probably go heavily for Obama. Hopefully this is not an indication that another election is about to be stolen by the Republicans!!

    October 29, 2008 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  12. vote! OBAMA-BIDEN NOV.4th


    October 29, 2008 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  13. values

    Looking good .

    Vote Obama/Biden.........08

    October 29, 2008 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  14. Michelle, PA

    There is no excuse for these kinds of sloppy errors, especially when heavy turnout is long expected. Americans' right to vote is one of the most precious and fundamental rights we have and our recent history in handling it has been a joke. Virginia not counting Federal ballots, West Virginia and other states' machines selecting the wrong candidate, voter purges, uneven resource allocation, provisional ballots dumped in the trash, workers not showing up...is this the democracy we stand for?

    October 29, 2008 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  15. Bubba

    We used to require a literacy test, but the Yankees made us stop. Now we require photo IDs.

    October 29, 2008 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  16. HouseDiva

    we can put a man on the moon, but we cant have an error proof election.

    computer voting should be outlawed...PERIOD!

    pencil and paper never fails.

    October 29, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  17. Chut Pata

    Georgia here I can. Say "A no to McBush is a no to Bush". The lead is just 8% for McCain. If every anti-Bush votes against McBush, we can turn this red state into blue. YES WE CAN.

    October 29, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  18. please vote dont stay home

    we need to be very careful and make sure there are observes, i smell rotten GOP tactics, limbaugh adn rove full operation chaos steal the vote

    they are doing this in many states........
    not good

    anyone reporting?

    CNN the best political team?? what are you doig to make sure the votes count?

    October 29, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  19. katiec

    I hope this is not an indication of what is going to happen Nov.4.
    People are so enthuised to vote. Officials have had more than
    sufficient time to prepare.
    I hope also there are steps that will be taken to eliminate the
    illegal suppression of votes the republicans are tryiing.

    October 29, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  20. mb

    Good thing we have early voting, Do not everyone have back up paper ballots? They still have time to make some, that would be wise.

    October 29, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  21. Mike The Obama Voter

    Voter suppression takes many different forms, but nothing the neo-cons do will keep their rotting stinking claw on the heart of the REAL america.

    Go Obama!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 29, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  22. Fool me once...

    And here I thought waiting 2 hours in Cherokee County was bad....looks like I lucked out!

    Funny thing though, as much as I hate waiting in line, I was so very proud to see how many people were there, and how much enthusiasm this election cycle has generated. Whether you vote Obama, or whether you vote McCain, the important thing is that you VOTE! Too many times in the past people have sat out elections, myself included, due to feeling disenfanchised, or that one vote wouldn't make a difference...It's good to see all of that changing and people coming together to take actions on their beliefs.

    Remember, Replublican, Democrat, or Independant, your opinion will never matter, unless you VOTE!

    October 29, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  23. Richard A. Spomer

    Maybe she is not informed about ACORN, and all of their illegal activities at registering many voters in different states. There are facts supporting Osama-Obama participation in the training of individuals along with contributing over $800,000.00 to ACORN.

    The point is one week before polls open she got to vote, and things are good again in Georgia!!!

    She just wanted to be noticed!!!

    October 29, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  24. Bullwinkle doesnt want Palin back in Alaska

    I am early voting in GA this week. Go Obama!

    Turn GA Blue!
    Turn the South Blue!
    Turn the US Blue!

    Come on VA,FA,OH,WV,AZ,IN,NV,MN!

    Get r' Dun!

    October 29, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  25. Ilene

    I voted in GA a few weeks ago with no problems. These problems should not come as a surprise. And these are probably not coincidences either. Even though they think that people are going to just give up and leave, not this time. Everyone is going to stand on line for as long as it takes. People are determined this year to get change!

    October 29, 2008 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
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