Official: 'Large number' of Gwinnett voters went to wrong precincts

November 2, 2012: Georgia voters stickers at the Sandy Springs polling location Friday November 2, 2012. BRANT SANDERLIN / BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM
November 2, 2012: Georgia voters stickers at the Sandy Springs polling location Friday November 2, 2012. BRANT SANDERLIN / BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

Credit: BRANT SANDERLIN / BSANDERLIN@AJ

Credit: BRANT SANDERLIN / BSANDERLIN@AJ

Thus far, Election Day 2016 has gone swimmingly in Gwinnett County.

For the most part, anyway.

"Only real issue being reported now," county spokesman Joe Sorenson wrote in an email early Tuesday evening, "is that a large number of people are voting out of precinct, and rather than going to their home precincts, they are demanding to vote provisionally."

That, naturally, causes a number of issues. Provisional ballots must eventually be manually checked and copied over, slowing the entire process both at the polls and later on.

Then there's the fact that such ballots allow their users to make choices in county- and statewide races and, in this instance, the presidential one — but not in other races meant just for voters in their proper precincts.

Nearly 500 provisional ballots had been used by 11 a.m. Tuesday. Sorenson did not have an updated number Tuesday evening, but believed it would likely be much higher.

He wasn't sure why such a large number of voters were going to incorrect precincts.

Around 6 p.m. — an hour before the close of voting — a poll worker was stopping voters outside the precinct at Norcross' Lucky Shoals Park to make sure they were at the right place. Inside a nearby gymnasium, well over 100 voters lined the perimeter of a basketball court, waiting to cast their ballots as youngsters played pick-up games.

Roughly the same number of voters were still waiting to vote 20 minutes after polls closed at 7 p.m.

All told, around 102,000 Gwinnett voters had cast Election Day ballots by 5 p.m. More than 166,000 residents of the county voted before Tuesday, more than doubling the early voting record set in 2008.

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In addition to the contentious presidential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Gwinnett voters had plenty of important local races to decide upon. Among them are two county commission seats; a 1-cent sales tax for road, construction and infrastructure projects; and Gov. Nathan Deal's Opportunity School District.

Polls technically closed at 7 p.m. but people in line by that time are still allowed to vote.

Voting at one Gwinnett precinct, Sweetwater Middle School on Lawrenceville's Cruse Road, was extended to 7:12 p.m. after "a problem unlocking the polling units" delayed its opening Tuesday morning.