One Fulton County precinct got the wrong voting machines, causing people to use provisional ballots for more than an hour after the polls opened. At another, a voter said he ran into trouble casting a ballot despite being directed to a new precinct he had been unaware of.
And across the county, residents complained of showing up at their polling locations only to learn they had been moved.
Throughout metro Atlanta Tuesday, the voting problems were not widespread. But technical issues in DeKalb County, a power outage in Gwinnett and a possible norovirus outbreak that led Rockdale County to move a polling location added up to annoyances that, coupled with Fulton’s issues, appear to have caused some people difficulty in casting their ballots.
In Fulton County, David Foster said some people walked out of his Virginia-Highland precinct, where the wrong machines were delivered, without voting. Some said they hoped to return later in the day.
Foster, who waited in line for about an hour starting at 7:15 a.m., said the process was slowed by the fact that only one poll worker was able to help voters fill out provisional ballots. As he got to the front of the line, poll workers were running low on the envelopes they needed to secure the ballots.
Richard Barron, Fulton’s director of registration and elections, said the county did not receive all the envelopes they had ordered from the state. The county had 50 provisional ballots at each voting location, he said, but only 35 envelopes.
Elections never go off without a hitch, Barron said, but he said the most common issue — voters going to a polling location that had been changed — resulted from residents who did not see their new precinct cards in the mail.
The county sent them, Barron said, but the white postcards often get mixed in with junk mail and thrown away. He suggested in the future the county might work with the state to make them more prominent.
“We do our part by sending out notifications,” he said. “Voters also have to do their part by checking where they go vote.”
Voters reported confusion over several polling locations, including at Atlanta’s Morris Brandon and Fickett elementary schools and Milton’s Northwestern Middle School.
There were some technical issues in DeKalb County. At Briarlake Elementary School shortly before 8 a.m., for example, precinct officials at one point were down to one functioning computer to verify registered voters, and they took that one down for a period to reboot the system.
Traffic was light at the precinct, so the delay only affected about a half dozen voters who waited while officials pored over a printout explaining the rebooting process
Voters at two south Gwinnett precincts ran into a problem: a car hit a pole, causing a power outage at the precincts that lasted about 45 minutes, county spokesman Joe Sorenson said.
State elections officials reported a relatively smooth day across Georgia, although sporadic problems did occur. That included in Lowndes County, where local elections officials said they were aware of two occasions when voters said they received Republican primary ballots despite requesting Democratic ones — a problem they said they fixed.
Barron, in Fulton, said it’s unreasonable “to expect everything to be absolutely perfect” when it comes to election day. But he said he was largely happy with the way things had turned out.
“At the end of the day, I think we’re going to have had a good election day,” he said.
Staff writers Nancy Badertscher and Chris Joyner contributed to this report.