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. proud army and navy mom

    Did anybody see Joe the lying, not a real plumber, trying to speak about Israel yesterday.?

    Is he now a foreign policy expert for Mcsenile? I guess he just as good as pathetic Palin....

    October 29, 2008 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  2. alvino

    How on earth could anyone vote for McCain? He wants to give huge tax cuts to Big Business and Big Oil.

    October 29, 2008 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  3. Spencer/Virginia

    If the election were today, I beleive Sen. Obama has won due to early voting. We've got the biggest get out the vote ever.


    October 29, 2008 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  4. facts are facts

    The way elections are conducted in the U.S. is a disgrace. Imagine a country being such a beacon for democracy throughout the world who run their elections similar to what one reads about in the 3rd world countries.

    Can someone explain how a country that can send someone to the moon can't run state wide elections in a uniform and responsible way?

    October 29, 2008 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  5. Bruce


    Some machines tend to vote for McCain.

    October 29, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |

    It is no surprise, Since Georgia has been a RED states for Decades.
    There are more Blacks now in Clayton County than ever before. THis is just a sample of Voters suppression. This is the history of intimidation that Blacks have been going through since time memorial.
    Their right to vote has been suppressed in most cases and the secretary od state who is a republican is ,doing everthing she can to make sure that these early voters who are basically democrats are intimidated and disacouraged.
    I think this is outraged, and there should be investigation. The NAACP SHOULD LOOK INTO THIS MATTER. ASAP.

    October 29, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  7. eds

    The Republicans are just trying to get around the court decision to disallow their planned voter suppression. Sad and sick.

    October 29, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  8. bk

    I live in northwest Ga, had to wait an hour to vote. In 2000 and in 2004, the people in line were excited and talked about their vote for G.W. This year nobody said a word. For a Democrat the silence spoke volumes.

    October 29, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  9. HS

    computers are not slow, only the people that operate them are. It is very easy to scapegoat an object these days. Just blame the problems on laziness of the election commision, period.

    October 29, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  10. Kim, New York

    My friend stood in line in ATL for 6 hours on Monday. That's ridiculous. Think about how may votes are lost by folks who simply can't wait that long.

    October 29, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  11. X & Y

    If all the votes are counted, it will be landslide for Obama and Biden. The Democratic ticket has credibility and charisma, charm and common sense, as well as history on its side. They areexactly the kind of leaders America needs at this time, a fine example that the rest of the world can relate to: capable leaders with clear ideas for the future. Colin Powell was right!
    By contrast, McCain and Palin fall far short of the standards a major democracy should be setting for the rest of the world. I am especially alarmed at the divisive tone of their campaign rallies. Hatemongering does not engender unity and hope, only fear and loathing. The only thing that could possibly save them is election fraud, voter suppression (which already looks to be happening in some places) and a few clever tricks by their equally sly friends in the White House (check out the war games being played out in Syria and Pakistan right now).
    Hopefully a majority of the US electorate will come to their senses this time!

    October 29, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  12. Bruce

    Here we go....funny how all these problems are in "red" states

    October 29, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  13. (Former) Lifelong Republican supporting Obama, Columbia, TN

    Why do we have these problems every Election Day?! It doesn't make any sense. Voting is something that we have been doing in this nation since America was founded. You would think that in 2008 in the 21st Century, Election Day would run like clockwork. It is just ridiculous!!!

    October 29, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  14. DM 45 yr old black male retired US Navy

    This is what happens in a plan scheme when they don't want for your vote to count. America the same thing is happening in Texas. People are voting for a straight Democratiic Ticket and when they go to review their Ballot Senator Obama name did no appear on their Ballot.

    The US Attorney General needs to take this for action.

    October 29, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  15. "Georgia Peaches" For OBAMA

    Georgia will turn BLUE!!!!!!!


    OBAMA 08/12

    October 29, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  16. blaje

    People should have the right to sue for stuff like this. All it is voter stalling. If they voters are going to treat this seriously and miss work to even vote, they should treat this seriously and make sure that everyones vote is counted. I am tired of reports of lost votes and broken computers, or not enough keys. Don't they go through rehearsals?

    October 29, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  17. Advocate50

    Maybe in addition to Joe the Plumer and Tito the builder McCain/Palin can add Polly the Pollworker to their list of supporters.

    October 29, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  18. Sharon Kitchen

    Yep......I know that Gwinnett county well.......sure sounds right.
    The State Election officals were advised by Federal ,as well as State,and local people, that problems would happen.......way before....this early vote schedule.Try years ago..........
    The problems still continue.......in most other counties as well.
    Folks sure hope "someone" steps in to help........soon.

    October 29, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  19. Mike

    Unbelievable. But what a great sign, to see so many people engaged and excited by the electoral process again.

    This should be a "heads-up" for everyone in all states - if you can take advantage of your state's early voting process, do so. The lines on Election Day are likely to be impressive!

    October 29, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  20. Matt in Virginia

    The conservative machine will do everything possible to steal the election, just as they did in 2000 and 2004 via dishonest methods.

    October 29, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  21. Outsider

    I'm an outside observer, and I didn't know that you guys could have problems just for voting....

    The most important thing is once you are on the line, make sure you only leave after voting...otherwise, you would have lined up for nothing!

    God bless America!

    October 29, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  22. PA Voter

    Wow, great turn out for Georgia! Hopefully that is a sign that majority of registered voters this year will go out and vote.

    I wish Pennsylvania had early voting. Tuesday is going to be crazy here, but I'll wait in line all day if I have to.

    Go Obama!!! I'm voting on the issues. Not only is he an eloquent speaker, but his stances on the issues mirror mine.

    October 29, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  23. R in GA

    Voter turnout in GA has been incredible and probably more than expected! People are being steadfast and determined to let their voice be heard. I hope to see this kind of enthusiasm all across the country!

    October 29, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  24. Alberto in Michigan

    "At another Fulton polling place, several election officials failed to show up."
    I am NO conspicary advocate at all, but "several" of them don't show up??? That is a coordinated effort. Hopefully it is just a localized issued. Regardless, don't let them discourage you and please don't let them stop you from voting!!!!!
    It's better to give everything you have to gain something you can never lose than to not give and lose everything.
    Obama 08/12

    October 29, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  25. Beth from Canada

    It is a wonderful thing to see voters lined up all over the United States in this election a week early. It shows that people are very concerned for the country and they want to make sure their voices are heard this time around. My congratulation is to those who have voted already; you are a true patriot to your country. Change is coming and this change is going to affect the whole world in a very positive way. God Bless you all.

    October 29, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
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