Fulton election update: Delivery snafu, shorter lines, few tech problems

11/3/20 - Atlanta, GA -  Voters were lined up at Park Tavern in Piedmont Park in Midtown Atlanta as polls opened at 7 a.m. on Tuesday. John Spink / john.spink@ajc.com
11/3/20 - Atlanta, GA - Voters were lined up at Park Tavern in Piedmont Park in Midtown Atlanta as polls opened at 7 a.m. on Tuesday. John Spink / john.spink@ajc.com

Credit: John Spink

Credit: John Spink

None of Fulton County’s 255 polling places opened late this morning and lines have been mostly short all day, officials said during a 10 a.m. digital press conference.

That’s a far cry from June 9, when at least nine precincts opened late and some voters waited all day in lines.

There were some technical issues this morning, including at Morris Brandon Elementary’s Primary Center in Buckhead, where voters cast paper ballots until machines started working around 9 a.m.

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When asked about that issue, Fulton elections head Richard Barron said it was a poll pad problem, but he didn’t know the cause. He said they reset the device completely.

That brings to mind what happened on the first day of early voting at State Farm Arena, where voting stopped for roughly an hour while they reset all the poll pads at the mega-site.

Another problem was one of soft commitment and not software.

A moving company the county had hired to deliver elections equipment to precincts backed out at the last minute.

“They basically said they didn’t have any staff to help us move,” Barron said.

The county had to hired the movers after a COVID-19 outbreak of elections warehouse staff, some of whom would have delivered the equipment. In all, 25 of the 60 warehouse workers tested positive, and two are still in the ICU.

ExploreHow votes are counted in Georgia on election night and beyond

That made for a chaotic scene last night as crews worked to get all the equipment out.

“It cut a little too close to the polls opening for my taste, but we were able to get all of that equipment out into the field,” Barron said.

He said the company dropping out affected more than 30 polling places.

One of them was The Cathedral of St. Philip in Buckhead, where the first person in line at 5:30 a.m. was Fulton Commission Chairman Robb Pitts. The equipment arrived at 7:04 a.m., leaving the chairman and others to vote with a provisional ballot.

ExploreFulton, state sign deal to end investigation of June 9 voting debacle

“It was seamless, no problem,” said Pitts, who added that a couple people waited 15 minutes until the equipment was set up.

Barron did not know how many precincts had to distribute provisional ballots because of issues, but those kind of ballots take three times longer to count.

He said he still expects results from most of the absentee-by-mail and in-person early votes to be posted online by 10 p.m. Tuesday. Because of the massive push toward earlier voting, mailed and early ballots will likely account for 70% to 75% of Fulton’s votes. He said he expects between 150,000 and 170,000 people will vote in person today.

Click here for the latest on Election Day from our reporters and photographers spread throughout metro Atlanta.

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