7:09:54 AM All voting machines are filled as a steady stream of voters comes in to cast their ballots at the polling place at the Crossroads Presbyterian Church in Stone Mountain early on Election Day, Tuesday, November 4, 2014. KENT D. JOHNSON/KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM
Photo: KENT D. JOHNSON / AJC
Photo: KENT D. JOHNSON / AJC

 DeKalb polling station to stay open late; complaints about state voter website

Voting rights groups vowed Tuesday to look at “every available legal option” to help Georgia voters caught up in intermittent problems with the Georgia Secretary of State’s website on Election Day.

The problems appeared to be concentrated in the early morning and reportedly cleared up by about 11 a.m. By then, however, hundreds of voters had called a nonpartisan national elections hotline to complain of being able to access their registration status or find out their local polling place. It is not clear that the site crashed completely. It instead slowed noticeably when accessed. Some users were directed to an error message.

At the time, the office directed voters to call its Elections Division at 404-656-2871 or emailing kemp@sos.ga.gov. Some voters reported trying to call local county elections offices and receiving busy signals because of high volume.

The website issue has probably been the most high-profile among sporadic problems reported across the state Tuesday.

In DeKalb County, local Superior Court Judge Linda W. Hunter ruled that a polling place located at Church of Christ of Bouldercrest at 2727 Bouldercrest Road remain open an extra 15 minutes beyond the normal 7 p.m. closing time because the voting did not start until 7:15 a.m. this morning.

Any voters in line at that site by 7:15 p.m. will be allowed to cast their ballots before the poll is closed.

At one polling precinct in the Buckhead area of Fulton County, equipment problems delayed voting by about 40 minutes, said Dwight C. Brower, chief of the county’s elections divisions.

“We had a backup plan. We offered everyone a provisional [paper] ballot,” Brower said.

But voters at a polling place set up at St. James Methodist Church refused the paper ballots and opted to wait until the voting machines were up and running, Brower said.

“We had some sporatic troubles at several sites,” he said. “Equipment trouble here and there.”

Another glaring problem: Voters reported having to pay to leave the parking lot adjacent to Georgia Tech’s student center polling site, despite signs announcing free parking.

“We were told inside that we could get out for free with our Georgia voter stickers,” said Elizabeth Stell, an attorney in Atlanta who arrived promptly when polls opened at 7 a.m.

“It took me maybe 15 minutes to vote and more than a half hour to get out of the lot,” Stell said. “It was only $2 but it’s the point that you shouldn’t have to pay to vote.”

A spokeswoman for Georgia Tech referred questions to the state elections office. However, voters reported similar issues – being required to pay to park on campus – during May’s primary election.

Elsewhere, voters Tweeted and called about long lines and slow going, as poll workers reconciled IDs with their rolls. Waits of up to an hour were not uncommon.

Some people left after seeing long lines at North River Baptist Church in Roswell, and a line of people wrapped around the Life Church in Smyrna, according to voters who contacted The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Former state Rep. Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta, was among the voters who showed up at St. James Methodist Church at 7 a.m. ready to vote.

Lindsey said computer problems delayed the start of voting until about 7:40 a.m.

At that time, poll workers were able to get two of the precinct’s four computers working properly, Lindsey said.

He said he was able to vote at 8:15 a.m. Many others he said, had to leave without voting.

“It’s another Fulton County mishap,” Lindsey said.

He said he was most concerned that election officials initially told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution they were unaware of any early voting problems.

Polls are open until 7 p.m.

If you need help finding where to vote, visit the My Voter Page of the Secretary of State’s website.

Continue checking back at www.AJC.com for up-to-the-minute results and reports.

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Staff writers Nancy Badertscher and April Hunt contributed to this report.

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