Races for governor, the U.S. Senate and statewide offices on the ballot

Primary election day in Georgia arrived with short lines and limited problems Tuesday as voters made their voices heard in one of the most politically competitive states in the nation.

But there were hiccups at a few voting locations.

Some voters arrived at the polls to find their precincts had been moved to different locations. Others had to wait in line during the initial morning rush. Several locations had problems starting voting machines.

Polling places in several counties didn’t open on time Tuesday morning, generally because of difficulties setting up voting equipment, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said. Many of those precincts could stay open a few minutes later to ensure voting opportunities in Bibb, Chatham, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, Gilmer and Gwinnett counties.

“It’s all quiet, and quiet is good. People are showing up to vote and we’re not seeing long lines and people are just pleased with the process,” Raffensperger said. “People know that we have fair and honest elections in Georgia.”

In Fulton County, voting went smoothly at almost all the county’s 250 polling sites, in part thanks to the 91,000 voters who cast their ballots during three weeks of early voting, interim Elections Director Nadine Williams said. Two polling places, Hopewell Middle in Milton and Creel Park in South Fulton, opened 20 to 30 minutes late.

Some poll workers were “no-shows,” but the county had staff in reserve, Williams said.

Credit: Jaime Sarrio McMurtrie

Credit: Jaime Sarrio McMurtrie

At North Decatur Presbyterian Church, two voting touchscreens weren’t working because of a problem with their batteries, but poll workers said they had enough functioning touchscreens to avoid delays. About 70 voters cast ballots in the first hour of voting.

Dan Richardson, a high school teacher, said he’s more worried about election conspiracy theorists than voting equipment.

“People have inordinate concerns about claims of fraud and voting rigging,” Richardson said after voting. “It’s good that we have a paper backup.”

ExploreGeorgia Primary: AJC Voter Guide

Another voter, Marcia King, said she needed help from a poll worker to figure out how to print her ballot from the touchscreen.

“This was very easy with no problems at all, and people were there to help,” King said.

At Eastside Church in Marietta, voters had to wait 40 minutes in line Tuesday morning. A golf cart brought older voters from a parking lot to the front door, and elderly voters were allowed to go to the front of the line.

Kirkwood resident Michael Wall said it took less than five minutes to vote at his precinct at Israel Baptist Church in DeKalb County.

Wall and his friends had researched the candidates, and he arrived to the polling location with names of his preferred candidate written on a lilac sticky note.

”Everything went pretty smoothly today,” he said.

Credit: Tia Mitchell

Credit: Tia Mitchell

The primary will determine Republican and Democratic nominees for governor and the U.S. Senate, along with closely watched campaigns for secretary of state, the U.S. House, lieutenant governor and other statewide offices.

Polls opened from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at neighborhood precincts across Georgia.

During in-person early voting over the past three weeks, Georgia voters shattered turnout records for a primary.

Over 796,000 voters cast ballots over the past three weeks — 2 1/2 times higher than the presidential primary two years ago. An additional 71,500 voters returned absentee ballots as of Monday.

On election day, primary turnout typically approaches 900,000 or more voters.

To advance to the general election in November, candidates must win more than 50% of the vote. In races with several candidates, if no one wins a majority, runoffs will be held in four weeks on June 21.


What voters need to know

Voting locations and sample ballots can be found through the state’s My Voter Page at mvp.sos.ga.gov.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and voters must cast ballots at their designated precincts on election day. All voters are required to show photo ID.

Georgia’s voting law passed last year, Senate Bill 202, made changes to elections.

The law required absentee ballot drop boxes to close at the conclusion of Georgia’s early voting period on Friday. Absentee ballots must be received by county election offices before polls close on Tuesday or they won’t be counted.

Voters who requested absentee ballots but didn’t return them in time can instead vote in person. Election workers can cancel absentee ballots and allow voters to use voting touchscreens.

Ballots cast at a precinct other than a voter’s assigned location won’t be counted, except after 5 p.m. The law also prohibits handing out food or water to voters waiting in line, though poll workers are allowed to install self-service water receptacles.