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Election Day in Atlanta: As polls close, some voters went to wrong precinct

Polls are now closed at metro Atlanta precincts, but a few precincts had extended hours due to earlier problems.

RESULTS: Visit AJC Election Results for real time updates.

Some DeKalb and Gwinnett precincts were open for up to 30 minutes past the scheduled 7 p.m. closing after multiple delays interrupted polling. 

All Saints Catholic Church in Dunwoody stayed open until 7:30 p.m. Earlier, the church closed after a small electrical fire caused voters to evacuate. 

Voting at Sweetwater Middle School in Lawrenceville closed at 7:12 p.m. due to a late opening. 

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Other Gwinnett voters had trouble finding their polling place or even went to the wrong one. 

"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."

Provisional ballots must be checked manually, which slows the process at polls. 

5:52 p.m. The Georgia NAACP chapter accused the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office of voter intimidation after they say deputies were decked out in political paraphernalia and openly campaigning.

"We have received numerous complaints from citizens in Forsyth County, Georgia that the Sheriff's Office is decorated in partisan campaign paraphernalia," president Francys Johnson said in a news release. "The complaints also point to deputies in full uniform and/or in patrol cars engaged in political campaigning."

But Forsyth Sheriff's spokesman Maj. Rick Doyle said the office hasn't received reports of deputies dressed in campaign attire and that they aren't allowed to wear political paraphernalia with their uniform. They also are not allowed to campaign on the job. 

4:07 p.m. Voters faced multiple polling issues at metro Atlanta precincts, particularly in DeKalb and Gwinnett counties. 

DeKalb County Elections Director Maxine Daniels told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution she was looking into concerns at Rock Chapel Elementary in Lithonia that some voters were told they did not have proper proof of citizenship, as first reported by ProPublica’s Electionland project. Those voters by law are allowed to vote using a provisional or “challenge” ballot.

All Saints Catholic Church in Dunwoody will remain open an additional 20 minutes Tuesday after a small electrical fire forced voters to evacuate, officials said. 

3:41 p.m.: Sweetwater Middle School, Precinct 43, located at 3500 Cruse Road in Lawrenceville, will be open until 7:12 p.m. due to a late opening. Other precincts will close at 7 p.m.

2:33 p.m. DeKalb County fire Capt. Eric Jackson said firefighters responded to a fire just before 11:50 a.m. at a church in the 2400 block of Mount Vernon Road in Dunwoody. Firefighters had the situation under control before noon, but the evacuation temporarily suspended voting."We are going to have to extend hours at that polling place," Mary Frances Weeks with the DeKalb County Board of Registration and Elections said.

In Gwinnett County, Sweetwater Middle School, Precinct 43, located at 3500 Cruse Road in Lawrenceville, will be open until 7:12 p.m. due to a late opening. Other precincts in the county will close at 7 p.m. 

Voters found other issues when they went to the polls. There were technical glitches in Gwinnett County, delays in the openings of two polling sites in that same county, and long lines in Fulton, Cobb and DeKalb.


While casting their votes at Grady High School on election day, some Atlantans share their reasons for voting.

1:12 p.m.: One of the Express Poll devices at Christ United Methodist Church in Albany temporarily stopped working, according to The Albany Herald. The devices charge the yellow voting cards.

12:03 p.m.: Election Day gas prices dropped to the lowest level since 2004 in Georgia, according to AAA. The cost of regular gas is $2.23. In 2012, the cost was $3.28.

Noon:  It's lunchtime and polling locations across metro Atlanta are reporting waves of voters trying to cast their ballots.  Fulton spokeswoman April Majors said people who are working on Election Day usually head to the polls during the lunchtime hour, so expect a rush.  “It can be pretty busy,” she said.  Majors also warned voters that the Cliftondale Community Center, Roswell Library and North Fulton Service Center are usually hot spots.

TRAFFIC: Commuters had to fight delays on the way home

11:21 a.m.: People are waiting in line at Life Church Smyrna Assembly of God. The line is moving quickly. Voters are spending no more than 20 minutes in line.

11:01 a.m.: Gwinnett County spokesman Joe Sorenson said voting machines were back online at the Bogan Park Community Recreation and Aquatic Center. They were down for a few minutes, he said.

10:35 a.m.: Gwinnett County spokesman Joe Sorenson said social media reports that an electricity problem led to down voting machines at Peachtree Elementary School are false. “That is incorrect,” he said. However, he did report a “power problem” at the Bogan Park Community Recreation and Aquatic Center. Sorenson said the county was sending someone to address the problem earlier Tuesday and he didn’t know if voters could cast votes as of 10:35 a.m.

PHOTOS: Voters in metro Atlanta go to the polls

10:29 a.m.: “I’m pleased to say all the polls opened on time and on schedule," Fulton elections director Richard Barron told The AJC. "We’re expecting 70 percent turnout." The previous early voting record in 2012 was 152,562. When absentee ballots come in, Barron said he expects the early vote will be about 284,000. “It’s a major accomplishment for us," he said. "Early voting worked in our favor. We’re pleased that our residents listened. Our hope is that today’s voters also will be patient if they have a wait.” Barron also addressed reports of inoperable voting machines at Therrell High in southwest Atlanta. “There seems to be a rumor that isn’t true," he said. "The poll manager had to reset express polls two different times. They’ve already processed more than 300 voters today. Right now, she’s processing voters. She’s processing voters as fast as she can. We don’t want to see anybody leave because of equipment malfunction. We do encourage them to go back. We probably received the fewest emails and complaints since I’ve been here. I’m not going to do any premature celebrating just because the first three hours have gone smoothly, but I am happy.”

10:25 a.m.: The Winnona Park precinct in the City of Decatur is reliably Democratic and that has been on display this morning with the number of women showing up to vote in pantsuits, the adopted emblem of Hillary Clinton supporters. A preteen girl, spotting a voter leaving the voting site in a pantsuit, yelled out, "Yes! Pantsuit!"

9:41 a.m.: Reports of inoperable voting machines at Therrell High School are false, Fulton County spokeswoman April Majors said. “We don’t understand how that rumor has spread,” she told The AJC. She added machines have been working properly and more than 200 people have voted.

9:30 a.m.: Mansfield Mayor Jefferson Riley posted this on his Facebook page: "Remember the voting days: Republicans vote on Tuesday, 11/8 and Democrats vote on Wednesday, 11/9."

Mansfield, Ga., Mayor Jefferson Riley posted this on his Facebook page: "Remember the voting days: Republicans vote on Tuesday, 11/8 and Democrats vote on Wednesday, 11/9."

9:24 a.m.: On Facebook live, Kelley Jackson said machines that were reportedly down at Therrell High School in southwest Atlanta were running again. We're checking with the Fulton County Department of Registration and Elections to get the full story on what happened at Therrell High.

On Facebook live, Kelley Jackson, the daughter-in-law of late Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson, interviews people attempting to vote at Therrell High School in southwest Atlanta. Voters experienced long lines due to voting machines malfunctioning.

9:21 a.m.: Sydney Hunte reported no issues at Centennial High School in Roswell.


8:56 a.m.: On Facebook live, Kelley Jackson, the daughter-in-law of the late Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson, is interviewing people attempting to vote at Therrell High School in southwest Atlanta. One voter told Jackson it took about an hour to complete the process.

8:42 a.m.: Two polling places in Gwinnett County opened late, county spokesman Joe Sorenson said. Ferguson Elementary School opened 8 minutes late due a problem with equipment, which has now been fixed. Sweetwater Middle School opened 12 minutes late due to a problem unlocking the polling units. "The biggest issue today so far has been people showing up at Elections HQ in Lawrenceville trying to vote," he said. "This location is only a polling place during early voting. People can deliver their absentee ballots to elections headquarters in Lawrenceville, but all other voting must be done at a voter’s regular polling place."

8:35 a.m.: Voting is heavy and slow in eastern Cobb County this morning, with wait times of about an hour at Hightower Trail Middle School. Voting machines were placed on the school's auditorium stage, and voters were seated in the auditorium after showing their identification cards are Neil their turns came.

8:17 a.m.: On Twitter, Dawn Schreter said she was told "half the machines (were) down" at Peachtree Elementary School in Gwinnett.


7:35 a.m.: Lines are growing at Grady High School in Atlanta.

Lines form as voting starts Tuesday at Grady High School. JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

7:09 a.m.: DeKalb County voters cast their ballots at Crossroads Presbyterian Church in Stone Mountain.

DeKalb County voters go to the polls on Election Day at the Crossroads Presbyterian Church in Stone Mountain. KENT D. JOHNSON / KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM

7:07 a.m.: Here are five key things to watch, according to AJC political reporter Greg Bluestein.

ORIGINAL STORY:Lines started forming early Tuesday. Grady High School poll manager Melvin Davis Jr. set up machines just after 6 a.m.That location brought out early riser Mike Plehal, who said he wanted to secure his spot in line. Cars filed into parking lots in Cobb, DeKalb and Gwinnett, and long lines formed before polls opened at 7 a.m.

During the early voting period that ended Friday, there were few problems aside from isolated reports of voting machines "flipping" voters’ presidential choices, The AJC reported. A record 2.38 million people cast their ballots during the early period. Local officials will enact safety plans to make sure all goes smoothly Tuesday.

Deputies will be assigned to busier polling sites in Cobb, and they plan to drive by polling spots in Gwinnett, Channel 2 Action News reported. Fulton police didn’t assign special patrols, but police said officers will monitor polls.

--Staff writers Maureen Downey, Tyler Estep, Arielle Kass, Joshua Sharpe and Dan Klepal contributed to this report.

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