Georgia election chief says tech issues resolved as turnout soars

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Monday that problems with a sluggish voter check-in system have been resolved and wait times have fallen as early voting turnout surges in Georgia.

Voters should expect a smooth early voting process after technical changes were made last week to the state computer system that looks up voter registration and check-in information at polling places, he said.

“When we saw an issue with speed of the voter registration, we jumped on it because we knew it would impact the voter experience, so we handled that very quickly,” Raffensperger said during a press conference at the state Capitol. “That solution has all been handled.”

The technical difficulties of the system, called eNet, resulted in slow-moving lines, with some voters waiting 12 hours on the first day of early voting last week.

Raffensperger’s comments Monday came after his office late last week couldn’t provide assurances that the problem with eNet was fully fixed. County election directors said they’re concerned the issue could resurface as turnout continues to increase during early voting.

By Monday afternoon, waits were 30 minutes or less in most early voting locations in metro Atlanta, with a few polling places reporting 1 1/2-hour voting times.

Raffensperger said the company that manages eNet for the state, Civix, added more capacity to deal with so many simultaneous queries for early voting, absentee ballot and voter registration information.

Even as the number of voters continues to rise as Election Day approaches, Raffensperger said the system should be able to handle the demand. The last day of early voting typically has the highest turnout, which could reach 400,000 voters on Oct. 30.

Raffensperger repeatedly thanked voters for voting early and using absentee ballots, saying state and county election officials made improvements after the June 9 primary that resulted in hours-long lines in some areas.

“After June, we all knew that we had to take effective steps so we have a smooth election for the fall,” Raffensperger said. “Our results speak for themselves. ... We are setting records with every passing hour.”

By the end of Monday, over 1.5 million Georgia voters had cast their ballots, putting the state well on its way toward a total turnout exceeding 5 million. By comparison, a total of 4.1 million Georgia voters cast ballots in the 2016 presidential election.

An all-time high number of voters, 128,000, cast their ballots on the first day of early voting, but that was just the beginning. Turnout rose each day last week, peaking at 167,000 on Friday.

As of Monday, 880,000 voters had cast in-person early ballots and 676,000 had returned absentee ballots, according to the secretary of state’s office.

Early voting locations are available in every county in Georgia, and absentee ballots are continuing to pour in.

Over 1.6 million voters have requested absentee ballots, which will be counted if they’re completed and received at county election offices by 7 p.m. Nov. 3.

By the numbers

1.56 million: Total ballots cast

880,000: In-person early voting

676,000: Absentee ballots returned

156%: Increase in total turnout to date vs. 2016

Source: Secretary of state’s office