Opinion: Fix glitches emerging in run-up to Nov. 3 election

FILE - In this March 3, 2020 file photo, voters wait in line to cast their ballot on the Super Tuesday, at a voting center in El Segundo, Calif. With a divided nation on edge as Election Day approaches, California is warning local election officials to prepare for disruption at polling places and potential cases of voters being intimidated or blocked from casting ballots. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File)

Credit: Ringo H.W. Chiu

Credit: Ringo H.W. Chiu

THE EDITORIAL BOARD’S OPINION

An exceptional year is likely to produce an exceptional response.

That’s perhaps the best way to analyze the opening days of early voting in Georgia, which began Monday.

As everyone expected, voters turned out in record numbers across the state to fulfill their civic duty and ensure that their voices are heard.

Early voting serves as the last big trial run before the Nov. 3 general election – now less than 20 days away.

Yet, as those who stood in long lines well know, the first few days of early voting show that Georgia is still struggling. There have been significant glitches around the state – and they must be resolved.

When put to the real-world test, new voting machines and related electronic hardware are acting up. Meanwhile, some Georgians are still waiting for absentee ballots to arrive.

Yes, the “record numbers” cited by the Georgia Secretary of State’s office have proven to be a large factor in wait times measured in hours at some voting locations this week.

Even so, it should be unacceptable to election officials – and Georgians – that some voters had to wait eight hours in Gwinnett County to reach a voting machine.

We understand this year is much more difficult, given the pandemic-fighting necessities of social distancing, increased cleaning and other changes.

But in the coming days, the state and counties need to redouble efforts to address these problems and increase capacity.

Our democracy, after all, depends on it.

Election workers, though, aren’t the only ones who have a role to play.

Each of us has a part.

Employers can help by being as flexible as they can in allowing workers time to vote. In a guest column earlier this month, an owner of Carrollton-based Southwire wrote about helping its 7,000 employees “participate directly in the very democracy that drives their own economic and social opportunities.”

We urge other companies to follow that example.

Voters themselves can help by doing their homework to learn more about the candidates and the issues. Reliable sources – such as The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Voter Guide, which appeared in last Sunday’s newspaper and can be found on AJC.com – are vital.

A strong democracy demands that its voters be well-informed. It also lessens the time spent in front of voting screens, helping lines move faster.

An unprecedented year and an important election demand no less from each of us.

The Editorial Board.

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