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. Steven

    Here in Augusta, GA I've heard there have been long lines but not any problems that I know of. Regardless, I'm taking Tuesday off to go vote.

    October 29, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  2. Deb from Iowa

    This is what my 76-year old aunt wrote me about the Gwinnett county polling place:

    "Stood in line OUTSIDE for 2 hours and it was so cold and windy. When I got inside the building for another 2 and 1/2 hours, I was so tired of standing I would have liked to sit on floor but was afraid I wouldn't be able to get up – EVER!! Then they came around to say the machines were down and they had no idea when they would be back up – and I was still another hour away if things had gone well. I had to leave. I was exhausted. I am going to try again tomorrow and if the lines are still that long I'll just have to wait til Tuesday. They just don't have enough early voting places for the metro area.

    I remember Goldwater/Johnson when I waited for 4 hours. But I was so young then and had a stronger bladder. After that they opened more voting locations. Most of the times now (and I always vote) it takes no more than 15 – 20 minutes."

    October 29, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  3. lyn

    My dear brothers & Sisters please I know we all have to wait a long time to cast our VOTE,if you want the change we need to get our America back to where we were before Bush, McCain, Cheney and Palin, wait in line and let us all get our America back. Go out there and VOTE for Obama & Biden. Thanks

    October 29, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  4. SB in NoVa

    Let's go GA! Vote for CHANGE! We need you!

    Already Voted Obama/Biden !
    Turn VA and GA blue!

    October 29, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  5. Greg Rodgers

    Voted yesterday in GA yesterday. Took 1hr and 40mins. Got it done!

    October 29, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  6. Kingslough

    I hope the GOP is not behind these. They would do anything to win.

    October 29, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  7. Rick

    I'd keep an eye on this because I used to live in Rockdale County 2 years ago and I notice that its Fulton, Gwinnett, and Clayton Counties with the problems; all heavily Democrat and African American areas.

    To quote James Baker from 2000 I'd be looking for some mischief here. Something just isn't right with this picture and I suspect the Republican Sec States office knows what it is. Ask them how many voting machines there are per capita in primarily white areas v. african american and or democratic areas...

    October 29, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  8. K-Dub 4 Obama

    Yeah, here in Missourri they've turned people around for not having 3 forms of (picture) ID, and a bill proving residency, even if they have their voter id card. Who the hell goes out to vote that has 3 forms of picture ID and a bill in their pocket unless they're told in advance to bring those things? Now we're hearing that the lines are three times longer than at Disney?!!! This makes absolutely no sense in a country that prides itself on democracy.

    October 29, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  9. arc, Lugano CH


    This is a must-see bi-partisan documentary for educated global-minded voters. The dire situation that the United States now finds itself on the domestic, economic and foreign relations fronts are a result of outright criminal election fraud by the Bush Administration and the Republican Party.

    October 29, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  10. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Those who hold themselves in the position of responsibility to ensure people can vote should be held accountable for their failure to do so. Excuses are not acceptable.

    October 29, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  11. alvino

    Palin has not cleaned up Alaskan corruption, yet she thinks she can clean up Wash. DC.

    October 29, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  12. Reality Check Richmond Virginia

    voting problems in Georgia?........say it isn't so.

    October 29, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  13. Sue

    Georgia needs to be more careful about their poll workers. There are probably too many illiterate Obama supporters working them.

    October 29, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  14. No More Hand Outs!

    (Please Post)

    If the African American voters would not keep changing their names to Muslim or African names (versus their given names), then there might not be such problems as "matching voters."

    Also, if individuals would stop with welfare fraud (listing different names at different addresses) to receive benefits, aka "welfare," then perhaps names and addresses would match accordingly.

    Is this called "sharing the wealth," this isn't any type of voter fraud, it's simply the product of taking advantage of the system.


    No More Hand Outs!!!!

    Who yo baby daddy?

    October 29, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  15. RDS

    I just don't get it....how long have we known that voter turnout was going to be historic? Why oh why can't they just fix these stupid problems I mean what is going on. It is ridiculous for someone to be waiting 5+ hours in a line to vote. I think Nov. 4 should become a national holiday on election days and people should be off so that they can go vote.

    October 29, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  16. Simmy

    Don't get discouraged Georgians- Keep voting! WOW! DEMS08!

    October 29, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  17. PATNYC

    Oh please! How stupid do the republican election officials, i.e, the republican GA sec. of state, think we Obama supporters are? Metro Atlanta has a large black voting population, and its no surprise that these problems are taking place in an area that will no doubtedly vote overwhelmingly Obama. Its a typical ploy by the republicans to cheat democrat voters out of their right to vote! Or, at the very least, it beseaks of how utterly incompetent they are in running elections.

    October 29, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  18. KJL

    Hang in there, people of Georgia. No matter which party you support you votes must be counted.

    October 29, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  19. Jill American

    Large voter turnout = machine failures = disinfranchished voters + RNC tactics = another stolen election = McCain victory.

    October 29, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  20. MikeNC

    This wreaks of Republican influence in an african american rich state. SHAME!!!

    Bring on the OBAMA!!!

    October 29, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  21. Chuck

    I wonder if the one with the keys, and the ones who didn't show were republicans. I'll bet my paycheck on it.

    October 29, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  22. ANGIE

    The republicans are up to the old tricks, Telling college Students if they Vote locally they will lose their Scholarships,Telling college students in Pa If they show up at the Polls and they have outstanding parking tickets they will be Arrested CNN PLEASE INVESTIGATE THE REPUBLICAN FRAUD GOING ON!

    October 29, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  23. Erik from Real PA

    What?! ? Is America suddenly some third-world country, unable to manage an election?

    October 29, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  24. Kevin

    We know that record turnout isn't supportive of McCain/Palin!!

    By the way, with all these accusations of "socialism," do MCain, Palin, and their Pavlovian followers even know the difference between:

    A) The philosophical objectives of Marx
    B) The political objectives of a communist dictator?

    McCain/Palin/&Friends seem to have conflated the two separate things.

    October 29, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  25. Jill American

    To House Diva – the machines are working just the way the Republicans want them to work and they are being manned by senior citizens who don't know what to do with a computer!

    It is NOT enough for the young people that got Obama where is to just show up ... they need to work the polls too. They want to go vote on Election Day and then go back and play drinking games while watching CNN.

    October 29, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
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