Georgia Voters Outraged as Long Lines and Broken Machines Make a Mess of State’s Primaries


Image via AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

By Araceli Cruz

June 9, 2020

Today was Georgia’s turn to vote in the primaries. Long lines and slow-to-come results due to mail-in-ballots’ increase were predicted. Here’s what happened at the polls.

Georgia (AP) — Long lines formed at some polling places Tuesday as Democratic candidates vying to take on Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue of Georgia in November faced off in a primary election Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.

Georgia’s chief election officer had warned results may be slow to come in as poll closures and virus restrictions complicate in-person voting and counties work to process a huge increase in ballots received by mail.

Among the key races, Tuesday was a contested Democratic primary for the nomination to challenge Perdue. Democrats included former congressional candidate Jon Ossoff, former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and former lieutenant governor candidate Sarah Riggs Amico.

Perdue, a close Trump ally, is seeking a second term in November as Republicans look to hold the White House and a Senate majority. He drew no GOP primary opposition.

Related: Voters Head to the Polls Tuesday As Protests Swell and Coronavirus Crisis Continues

The race has proven to be anything but predictable, with the candidates forced to do most campaigning online because of the coronavirus pandemic. In recent days, the contest was shaped by widespread protests and the civil unrest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Criticism of the Trump administration’s response on both fronts has added fuel to Democrats’ ambitions of winning in Georgia, where Republicans dominate statewide elections, but Democrats are making gains.

If no candidate receives more than 50% of votes, the top two finishers will advance to an Aug. 11 runoff. Other Democrats in the race include former ACLU of Georgia’s head Maya Dillard Smith, Air Force veteran James Knox, and Marckeith DeJesus.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Monday predicted longer lines. He also said his office won’t begin to release results until the last precinct has closed. He predicted the winners may not be known for days.

Related: Trump’s Attacks on Vote-by-Mail Could Suppress the GOP’s Own Vote

“To get a good concept of where we are with the election — who won, who lost, or who’s in the runoff, things like that — I would think that could take upward of a couple days in some of these really tightly contested elections,” Raffensperger said.

Voters will also select party nominees for U.S. House races and for state House and Senate. Other state and local races are on the ballot as well.

According to CNN, Raffensperger said that his office will investigate today’s voting delays.

“The voting situation today in certain precincts in Fulton and DeKalb counties is unacceptable,” Raffensperger, a Republican, said, according to CNN. “My office has opened an investigation to determine what these counties need to do to resolve these issues before November’s election.” The city of Atlanta is encompassed in the two counties.

More than 1.2 million Georgians have already voted early, Raffensperger said Monday. A majority of those ballots were cast absentee by mail.

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The Latino Vote in Georgia

Among Latino voters in Georgia, Pew Research reports an estimated 923,000 Latinos live in the state. Voter registration statistics as of November 1, 2016, show that 127,000 Latinos are registered to vote statewide. Overall, Latinos make up only 2.3 percent of the state’s 5.4 million registered voters.

However, Latino voter turnout should surge this year. A report conducted by UCLA’s Latino Policy & Politics Initiative shows that in the 2018 midterm elections, there was an increase in Latino voters in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, New Mexico, and Texas. 

“The average vote increase among Latinos was 96% compared to 37% among non-Latinos from 2014 to 2018. The 2018 Midterm Elections are an important indicator for estimating Latino voter participation and candidate support in defining control of the U.S. House of Representatives and the executive leadership for the over a dozen states.  Across the eight states, analysis of the official election results suggests growth in the Latino vote was influential in flipping the partisan control of 20 seats from Republican to Democrat in 2018.”

The report also shows Gwinnett, Hall, and Whitfield counties had at least a 50% increase in Latino voters during the 2018 midterm elections.

Yet still, it remains unclear if Latino voters will get to vote at all. People on social media reported no lines in areas where the population is majority white, and hours-long wait for other parts of Atlanta where there are predominately Black and Brown voters.

Others are accusing the state of voter suppression including Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

She tweeted Tuesday morning, “If you are in line, PLEASE do not allow your vote to be suppressed. PLEASE stay in line. They should offer you a provisional ballot if the machines are not working.”

Despite the long lines and broken machines, it looks like people are sticking it out and waiting as long as it takes.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.




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