Few problems reported at busy polling places

Voters found out Tuesday that it’s possible to have both high turnout and short lines in Georgia.

There were few waits or problems in the highly anticipated election, with eager voters motivated to participate in top-of-the-ticket races for the U.S. Senate and Georgia governor.

While the stakes were high, there wasn’t much drama for voters. No one reported threats or illegal behavior at polling places as of Tuesday afternoon.

“Some people can’t believe the turnout is so strong because you’re not seeing any of these long lines,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said. “It’s just been tremendously smooth.”

ExploreAJC Vote Tracker: How many Georgians voted early?

Turnout was expected to exceed the 3.95 million voters seen in the last midterms four years ago but likely fall short of the 5 million voters who cast ballots in the 2020 presidential election. About 2.5 million people had already voted early or absentee this year.

The longest lines on Tuesday lasted just over 10 minutes, even in urban areas, but election officials expected a surge of voters in the final hours before polls closed.

Unlike in previous elections marred by hourslong waits, especially the 2018 general election and the 2020 primary, this Election Day was a breeze. The 2020 presidential election also had few problems, but in-person turnout was much lower during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Lines moved fast because election officials ensured that each precinct had enough check-in stations, voting touchscreens and scanners to accommodate their number of registered voters, Raffensperger said.

Before polls opened, two poll workers were fired from working at the Ocee Library precinct in Johns Creek because of “questionable social media posts.”

A since-deleted Facebook post appears to show one of the workers outside the U.S. Capitol during the riots on Jan. 6, 2021.

Most voters on Tuesday said they were confident that their votes will count and the election will be secure after the last election two years ago, when some supporters of President Donald Trump claimed the results were invalid. Investigations, court cases and recounts upheld that vote count.

Amy Culpepper said she had no worries about the accuracy of the vote count in this year’s election

“I don’t think there’s some broad voting conspiracy or anything,” Culpepper said after casting her ballot at the North Fulton Service Center.

Since Georgia is a swing state, voters know they can make a difference in elections, said Kayleigh Crossen, who lives across the street from her Sandy Springs precinct.

“I think our votes can really count now,” Crossen said.

Other voters said they were worried about election security as they cast their ballots.

Terry Peterson, who works in building construction and remodeling, said voting went smoothly at Vickery Mill Elementary School in Roswell, but he’s not in favor of extensive early voting.

“I’d rather go back to paper ballots,” Peterson said. Georgia’s voting system uses touchscreens that print out paper ballots, but Peterson prefers ballots filled out by hand.

Other voters expressed confidence in the process.

Tawney Schwarz, a biomedical engineer, voted in her first Georgia election at a church off Ralph McGill Boulevard in Atlanta. She recently moved from North Carolina and found the voting process to be a seamless five-minute task.

“Completely smooth, very easy to understand, and you get a chance to triple check it,” she said of the ballot.

In Cobb County, a judge ordered two precincts to remain open late because of “errors getting the machines up and running” in the morning, said Daniel White, an attorney for the county’s elections office.

This year is an improvement from the 19 precincts in Cobb held open past 7 p.m. in 2020, White said.

A precinct in DeKalb County and one in Gwinnett County also stayed open late because of delays when polls opened.

“We’ve had lines at some locations, but nothing out of hand at this point, and there haven’t been waits over 30 minutes,” said Aunna Dennis, executive director of Common Cause Georgia. “We’ve also seen things like folks taking pictures of our volunteers.”

Alexus Davis, an information technology recruiter, said it took about five minutes to vote at Antioch Baptist Church, one of Fulton County’s largest voting locations.

“I know a lot of times it comes down to not that many votes in the end, so I think every vote matters,” she said.

Staff writers Adrianne Murchison and Vanessa McCray contributed to this article.