Cobb polls close after storms, 2-hours lines and too few voting machines

Update at 7 p.m.

The lines are only getting shorter from here on out; the polls have closed.

Cobb residents in line by 7 p.m. will get to vote, said Janine Eveler, county elections head.

Looking back, storms hit the streets before the sun did. It soaked many early voters waiting in line. The wet weather petered out well before the lunch rush.

That lunch rush only added to the long lines and formed what Eveler said were two-hour waits at some precincts.

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Many voters complained of fewer voting machines this election, and that’s because there were.

Eveler said more than 600 voting machines have been taken out of the pool of available devices.

She said that's because of a Georgia Supreme Court ruling from September that left many of their machines sequestered.

Still, it’ll be a while until all the votes are counted.

Just think if 27 percent of Cobb's registered voters hadn't cast their ballots early.

Update at 2:12 p.m.:

Janine Eveler, chief of Cobb elections, said the turnout today is beyond what she and her staff expected. She said the lines are between 1½ to 2 hours in some places.

“We thought we would still have adequate voting units, but the turnout is much higher than any midterm we have ever conducted and lines have formed at most polls,” she said at 1:25 p.m.

READELECTION 2018: Problem precincts reported in Fulton County, turnout steady

Eveler said many voters are complaining about a lack of voting machines.

She blamed that on the Georgia Supreme Court ruling from September that left many of their machines sequestered.

Eveler said more than 600 voting machines have been taken out of the pool of available machines.

She said the number of ballot measures is also making it “difficult for voters to quickly get through.”

She said anyone in line at 7 p.m. will be able to vote.

Update at noon:

More than 100 voters lined the hallways of Kennesaw Elementary School on Tuesday.

They walked out with more than a sticker; a non-partisan community group was handing out doughnuts and drinks to voters.

Katherine Cochran and her husband came out with glazed doughnuts and some red Gatorade.

The pair are moving to Ormond Beach, which is northeast of Orlando in Florida, in 12 days, but she said they felt it was important to vote for Kemp before they left.

“He stands for what I like: the Republican values of hard work.”

Cochran said she voted against allowing the sale of alcohol before 11 a.m. on Sundays, the so-called "Brunch Bill," because she doesn't believe in the sale of alcohol before church.

“I don’t see what the big deal is, why can’t you wait?”

She said that opinion might not be popular with younger folks, but she doesn’t care.

“I think some of the old traditions are something you can hang onto,” Cochran said.

Jerri Toland, 53, said she voted after a friend showed her lots of television interviews with candidates.

“I’ve learned a lot about the candidates in the last weeks,” said Toland, who couldn’t remember the last time she’d voted.

She cast her ballot for Kemp.

“I know he’s for the military,” Toland said. And that’s become personal to her recently; her son just finished boot camp to become a Marine.

Credit: Ben Brasch/AJC

Credit: Ben Brasch/AJC

Retiring after 23 years in the Air Force, Fred Welch said he was proud to vote for Abrams on Tuesday.

The 71-year-old, who voted for George H.W. Bush but not Donald Trump, said something had to give.

“I want more of a change, more of a balance,” he said. “ ... We’ve gotten too conservative.”

Welch said Kemp’s television ad about rounding up immigrants in his truck turned him off.

“We’re a land of immigrants,” Welch said, adding that he feels such language encourages the bashing of others. “That’s not what I defended my country for.”

One thing he also wishes would change: that he waited an hour in line because there were six voting machines.

Red Edwards, 87, was able to cut the line on account of his age. The polling place was making the offer to anyone 75 or older.

After his short wait, he voted for Kemp.

“He’s more conservative,” Edwards said. “He believes in the individual making choices.” He said he also voted for Kemp during the primary.

A Cobb County resident since 1951, he said this is the most action he’s ever seen at a precinct for a midterm election.

Donning a big smile as he talked and joked, his face turned serious as he mentioned one thing: “I hope it’s decisive enough that they accept it.”

Update at 9:03 a.m.:

Salomon Maya, 28, said he got in line at 6:30 a.m. and waited 15 minutes once he got inside the Windy Hill Community Center precinct in Smyrna. But it wasn’t soon enough to escape the rain.

“I got pretty soaking wet,” he said.

The rain didn’t keep Amanda Le and her husband away.

Credit: Ben Brasch/AJC

Credit: Ben Brasch/AJC

They came out for a simple reason.

“We’re kind of frustrated with politics,” the 30-year-old woman said.

She said they waited 40 minutes to vote for Abrams.

“I don’t really care for the vitriol and the dehumanizing of each political party,” Le said, adding, “I don’t like Brian Kemp.”

She said she feels Abrams has better gotten out and connected with the Asian-American community, of which Le identifies as being a member.

During the 2016 presidential election, data shows, the Windy Hill precinct went 80 percent for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (1,638 votes) and 19 percent (400 votes) for President Donald Trump.

Don Hendershot, 66, voted there Tuesday for Brian Kemp.

When asked why, Hendershot said: “He’s not a socialist.”

Hendershot said he isn’t thrilled with Kemp — “most of it is B.S. ... it’s ridiculous” — but said he felt the secretary of state was the lesser of what he considered two evils.

But it was more than the top of the ticket that brought people out.

READWhat to watch for in Georgia on Election Day

Kayla Wright, 24, and Zachary Savors, 44, both voted for Abrams on Tuesday but felt differently about the Marsy’s Law measure on the ballot in Georgia.

The law would demand that victims be notified before court hearings involving those accused of harming them. It would also give victims the chance to be heard in court before a defendant is released, enters a plea or is sentenced.

Wright voted yes, and Savors voted no.

“Whoever’s been a victim should know ... should be informed,” Wright said.

As for Savors: “So many people have been falsely accused,” but he said he acknowledges that many are credibly accused of such crimes.

The ballot effort has brought millions of dollars of contributions into the state.

Credit: Ben Brasch/AJC

Credit: Ben Brasch/AJC

Original post at 7:22 a.m.:

The polls are open on a stormy and contentious midterm Election Day in Cobb County and throughout metro Atlanta.

At least 70 people were outside the Windy Hill Community Center in Smyrna when it opened to voters, some with umbrellas and wearing rain jackets. The parking lot was full.

During the 2016 presidential election, data shows, the Windy Hill precinct went 80 percent for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (1,638 votes) and 19 percent (400 votes) for President Donald Trump.

Aside from politics, weather loomed over the day.

The county said Monday on its Facebook page that "severe weather is possible ... for Election Day" and that it is keeping an eye on the forecast. Hazards include strong winds, "brief" tornadoes and lots of rain.

READ5 things to know about who runs Georgia's elections

All signs show that enthusiasm is high for these midterm elections, which are headlined by the battle between Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams for the governor’s mansion.

Want proof?

Both candidates exceeded $20 million in campaign contributions.

And people obviously care about this election, considering 27.2 percent of all registered Cobb voters had already cast their ballots as of Monday. That's up from 17 percent in the 2014 midterms.

THROWBACKHow'd your Cobb neighbors vote in the 2016 presidential election?

“For the midterm, that’s unprecedented,” Cobb elections director Janine Eveler said Monday.

Eveler warns that if people have trouble at the polls, like vote-switching problems due to bad calibration or long fingernails, they should notify the manager of their precinct.

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