Surging Voter Turnout Signals Start of Georgia Early Voting

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Voters social distancing in a line at one of Gwinnett’s early voting locations. (Courtesy of AJC.com)

As of Monday, October 12, Georgia officially started its early voting process for the 2020 Presidential Election. Due to the current pandemic and competitive election, numerous issues have arisen since the beginning of Monday. Early voters found themselves in long lines, stretching into U shapes all around voting locations to follow Covid regulations. 

Early Monday morning, voting locations found themselves with technological problems due to the overload of voters. For early voting, a registered voter is allowed to vote at any location in their county, which is different from regular voting where one is assigned a specific location. This may have been one of the leading causes of the hour-long lines and missing parking spots in some locations. An issue similar to this seems to be normal for a Presidential Election, but this election is on its way to setting a record. 

With countless citizens voting in Gwinnett voting locations- casting one vote can take up to 45 minutes, but at other locations, it can take up to 8 hours. On the evening after the first day of early voting, Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, announced that Georgia has already seen a record in-person voter turnout. 

Raffensperger states, “On our successful first day of early in-person voting, we saw almost 130,000 people cast their ballots, mirroring the enthusiasm surges we saw in almost every other state that has started early voting for November.” 

Counting the absentee ballots returned, which was 473,341, more than 600,000 ballots have already been cast in Georgia for the Presidential election. However, these large numbers amounted to more than a huge voter turnout- it also contributed to plenty of problems arising at voting locations across the county and state. 

There were technological problems with the poll books (a device that reviews a voter’s registration information) at the voting sites on Monday. This caused the line to halt for ten to thirty minutes before voters were again allowed to vote. Again, although a few left everyone was socially distancing and water was being handed out at the polling locations allowing many patient voters to wait for hours in lines. 

Natalie Rawlings, a 49-year-old in Georgia, was at her local library to vote early on Monday. She was faced with an extremely long line and no parking spots. Despite that, she says that it wasn’t that bad.

She states, “I’m outside. It’s a nice day. They’re giving water away. There are worse things. And everybody is appropriately socially distanced.” 

 Some voters were seen taking advantage of the time to sit down and catch up on some of the books they brought, and surprisingly, out of a large number of voters, not many were genuinely annoyed at the waste of time. Some voters who were interviewed, similar to Rawling’s interview, called the experience pleasant and safe.

From the second week of October till the end of the month, voters will still be given the choice to early vote. Despite the technological problems, hour-long lines, and missing parking spots Georgia is still being faced with its record voter turnout. Even with the on-going pandemic, the voters in Georgia are more than eager to vote than before.

Here is a list of local polling locations!-

  • First Baptist Church of Lilburn- 
  • Mountain Park Depot (GC Park)-
  • New Mercies Christian Church-
  • Arcado Elementary-
  • Lilburn Christian Church-
  • Berean Baptist Church-
  • Trinity Lutheran Church-
  • Mountain Park First Baptist Church-
  • Lucerne Baptist Church-
  • Voices of Faith-
  • Calvary Baptist Church-
  • Oak Road Lutheran Church-
  • Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church