Voters In Fulton County, Georgia, Wait Hours To Vote After County Installs Only Three Polling Machines

Georgia voters cast ballots during early voting
Jessica McGowan / Getty Images

Voters hoping to cast their ballots in Fulton County, Georgia, were left standing in queues for hours on Election Day after only three voting machines were mistakenly installed.

According to The Hill, County Elections Director Rick Barron explained on Tuesday during a press conference that the reason for the lengthy delay at the Pittman Park Recreation Center was because “too few machines were sent to the polling location.”

Barron’s excuse was that “election staffers entered the wrong registration number into the assignment,” and that the actual number of machines that should have been installed was “one voting machine to every 350 voters registered in that precinct.”

The county covers part of downtown Atlanta, and the result of the lack of machines meant that the average person hoping to cast their ballot in the county was forced to stand in a line for over three hours. By comparison, other stations in Georgia were reporting waits of no longer than 45 minutes.

Barron assured voters that five more machines were being sent to the county, and hoped that those who had given up after a long wait and left would return to cast their vote before the polling station closed.

“I just want to tell the voters there that on behalf of me and my staff, we’re sorry for the mix-up,” he said.

Rev. Jesse Jackson called the mishap “a classic example of voter suppression,” and even went to the polling station to encourage people to wait it out to vote.

“It’s a classic example of voter suppression, denying people easy access to exercise their right to vote,” Jackson said in the statement. “But today, the people said we will not be deterred.”

And that wasn’t the only major delay voters in Fulton County faced.

As Sara Henderson, executive director of Common Cause Georgia, explained, there were also reports that polling locations had not opened on time in the city, that machines in other locations were broken, and many voters faced issues with the exact match laws in the state. Georgia’s tight run for governor between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp has been marred by controversy in the past few weeks, with talk of a major purge of voter rolls and problems with the exact match system.

The exact match laws mean that if there is a single error on a voter’s registration forms that doesn’t add up with the information from the state’s Department of Driver Services or the Social Security Administration, their registration will be marked as “pending,” often without notifying the voter of the issue.