Polls generally close at 7 p.m.
The extended hours were ordered by Melodie Snell Conner, the chief judge of Gwinnett County Superior Court. Her order said that, during times when ExpressPoll machines were not functioning properly at the precincts in question, “voters were provided provisional ballots with a memorandum.”
ExpressPolls are not voting machines, but are used to check voters in, verify their information and load their ballots onto voter cards.
“Advice to voters in the memorandum does not fully comply with [Georgia law] in that it is misleading on whether their vote on the ‘provisional’ paper ballot will automatically count without” the additional validation required for traditional provisional ballots, she wrote.
“This misleading information acted to effectively close the polls to those voters for the time frames presented,” Conner continued.
A specific reason for the much longer hours at Annistown Elementary was not immediately provided. But Gwinnett County spokesman Joe Sorenson previously said that, when the ExpressPoll machine there was malfunctioning, poll officials attempted to resolve the issue instead of issuing paper ballots to voters that were present.
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ORIGINAL STORY: At least one Gwinnett County voting precinct will be open later than usual Tuesday following technical issues that caused long lines and forced voters to resort to paper ballots.
The Annistown Elementary School precinct near Snellville — one of four Gwinnett voting sites that had prolonged issues with the electronic ExpressPoll system — will remain open until 7:25 p.m., officials confirmed.
Polls typically close at 7 p.m. Gwinnett County spokesman Joe Sorenson said the extra 25 minutes were added because poll workers did not immediately start issuing paper ballots after they noticed the machine issues.
They spent that time trying to resolve the technical issue, Sorenson said.
Issues with ExpressPoll, which checks voters in to their precincts, were also reported at the Gwinnett Public Library Branch in Suwanee, Mt. Vernon Baptist Church near Lawrenceville and at Harbins Elementary near Dacula.
Sorenson said he did not have specific information about the issues, what they were or what caused them.
Without ExpressPoll, poll workers are able to use paper voter rolls and voters are able to cast paper ballots. Those ballots, which are akin to standardized testing forms, are later scanned by machines, not by people.
Sorenson said it is the same technology the county utilizes for provisional and absentee ballots.
But at the Annistown Elementary precinct, some voters remained skeptical.
Cheryl Strickland told The Atlanta Jourrnal Constitution she arrived at 6:15 a.m. — 45 minutes before polls opened — she would stay put at until she could vote on a machine.
Tabitha Fudge was waiting too, saying she didn’t trust that paper ballots would be counted properly.
In a contentious — and litigious — election season across the state, Gwinnett County has faced extra scrutiny. It was singled out in voting rights lawsuits due to its rejection of an inordinate amount of absentee ballots.
Gwinnett — long a Republican stronghold but rapidly shifting left — is expected to be a battleground in races that will determine everything from the governor’s mansion to local commission seats.
At least one voting site had non-technical issues Tuesday.
Sorenson confirmed that power cords were not packed for the ExpressPoll machine at Anderson-Livsey Elementary School. The machine ran on battery for about 45 minutes before dying.
Poll workers issued paper ballots for about 15 minutes before power cords were found and the machine was back up and running, Sorenson said.
Nevertheless, hundreds of waiting voters stretched the entire length of the school.
Travon Stanton waited for more than an hour at Anderson-Livsey Elementary. He said it was worth the wait.
“I want to have my voice heard,” Stanton said.
Gwinnett County has 156 voting precincts.