Georgia sees record turnout on first day of early voting


SAVANNAH, Ga. (NewsNation Now) — Following reports of voters waiting in hourslong lines to cast their ballots, Georgia reached a new record on the state’s first day of early voting.

The Secretary of State’s Office reported that more than 128,500 people cast ballots in-person on Monday. It’s a more than 40% increase from the previous record set on the first day of in-person voting ahead of the 2016 presidential election, according to state officials. Just under 90,700 voters cast their ballots then.

Across the state, voters at several polling locations reported waiting hours on Monday, and the long lines continued at some places on Tuesday as well.

In Chatham County, several residents told NewsNation affiliate WSAV that they waited more than four hours to vote.

Alexandria Nicholson tried to join the line on Monday, but found the wait discouraging.

“I came back later on Monday and the line was wrapped around so when I came today I figured that’s just how it’s going to be, so I decided to stay today,” Nicholson told WSAV.

The Secretary of State’s Office has said that wait times may be longer due to the increased number of voters.

“Record early, in-person voting capped off an already unprecedented election cycle,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a statement on Tuesday. “On our successful first day of early in person voting, we saw almost 130,000 people cast their ballots, mirroring the enthusiasm surges we saw in almost every other state that has started early voting for November.”

The Chatham County Board of Registrars reported delays checking in voters, but officials said it’s an issue with the statewide network. The state has promised to fix the problem.

Despite the long lines and the hot weather, some voters said they’ll do whatever it takes to cast their ballot.

“If it takes five hours or six hours, I’ll be here until I get my vote counted,” Porter Lady told WSAV.

People can continue to vote early in person through Oct. 30. While voters must vote at their assigned polling place on Election Day, they can vote at any open polling place in the county where they live during early voting.

Georgia’s elections have drawn national scrutiny in recent years. That was renewed in June when the state’s primary election was marred by long lines caused by equipment problems and high turnout, as well as coronavirus-related consolidations of polling places and shortages of poll workers.

Concerns about voter disenfranchisement have resulted in a flood of election-related lawsuits seeking to have judges order changes.

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit filed in August by Democrats that asked him to order Georgia election officials to take steps to prevent long lines at the polls on Election Day. U.S. District Judge Michael Brown wrote in an order Tuesday that it appears election officials have taken steps to address the issues that previously caused long lines.

“It is possible, of course, these measures will ultimately prove insufficient and long lines will still arise,” he wrote. “But that is not the point; no one, including this Court, can guarantee short lines.”

Separately, U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg late Monday declined to order Georgia polling places to increase the number of emergency paper ballots they have on hand to allow voting to continue if there are problems with electronic voting equipment.

Determining the precise details of election administration is the responsibility of state and local election officials, Totenberg wrote.

The Associated Press and NewsNation affiliate WSAV contributed to this report.

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