As people waited for hours & hours to vote all over the counties that were strongest for @StaceyAbrams – an investigation found that over 1,500 fully functioning voting machines were locked up by the state & unused, Politically Georgia reports.
Metro Atlanta voters stood in long lines Tuesday, amid a surge in turnout that made the midterm election resemble a presidential contest.
As they waited — some for hours — hundreds of voting machines sat unused, locked up in government warehouses, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned.
The machines were sequestered by local officials because of an ongoing federal lawsuit that argues Georgia’s electronic voting machines could be hacked or tampered with.
With fewer machines in precincts, voters faced heavy delays, often more than an hour, before they got to the front of the line. The issue affected voters in Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton counties, the three jurisdictions covered by the court case.
Election officials said Wednesday that the lack of voting machines — combined with high turnout and wordy constitutional amendments — created some of the longest lines in years. They said that by the time they realized turnout would significantly exceed the last midterm election, there wasn’t time to find additional machines.
No matter who’s at fault, voters suffered the consequences.
Throughout Election Day, The AJC heard complaints from voters who said when they arrived to vote they were met with fewer machines.
There were only four voting machines at First Presbyterian Church on Peachtree Street in Fulton County, a sharp reduction from the 10 or 15 voters available in the 2016 presidential election, said Rob Lami, who waited an hour and 45 minutes to vote.
Another voter, Paul Johnson, said he saw the long line and came back later Tuesday. After he returned, he still had to wait two hours.
“Usually this is not a long wait line,” Johnson said.
Extreme lines and technical difficulties caused judges to order three precincts in Fulton to remain open late. Three more precincts in Gwinnett stayed open beyond the normal closing time because of separate problems unrelated to having too few voting machines, such as machines running out of batteries.
In Fulton, Elections Director Richard Barron said the county had about 40 spare machines, and they had to be kept as a backup in case other machines had issues. There were nearly 2,000 voting machines in use in Fulton this election.
“We have a shortage,” Barron said. “We’re somewhat stuck with how many machines we can put out in the field.”
An unrelated mistake led to too few machines at Pittman Park Recreation Center, where only three voting machines were initially available before five more were sent later.
Barron said the location contains two precincts, and voting machines were incorrectly allocated based on the number of registered voters in the smaller precinct.