Main Issues With Voting in Atlanta as 5 States Maintain Primaries

ATLANTA — Georgia election officers, ballot staff and voters reported main hassle with voting in Atlanta and elsewhere on Tuesday because the state’s primaries obtained underway, most critically a collection of issues with new voting machines that pressured many individuals throughout the state to attend in lengthy strains and solid provisional ballots.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said on Twitter that voting machines weren’t working in lots of components of the town. Ballot staff in a number of areas had been having problem working the machines, which had been new fashions.

“If you’re in line, PLEASE don’t permit your vote to be suppressed,” Ms. Bottoms wrote. “PLEASE keep in line.”

Nikema Williams, the chairwoman of the Democratic Social gathering of Georgia, mentioned she had 84 textual content messages reporting voting issues inside 10 minutes of the polls opening at 7 a.m. Ms. Williams, who’s a state senator from Atlanta, mentioned that in some areas the voting machines didn’t work and in at the least one different no machines ever arrived.

“It’s a sizzling mess,” Ms. Williams mentioned. “How do you not have a voting machine?”

Election Day issues are hardly new to Georgia, the place Republican officers have overseen voting procedures which have led to hourslong strains, most just lately through the 2018 governor’s contest, which Brian Kemp, a Republican who on the time was secretary of state and in command of working the election, gained by 50,000 votes over Stacey Abrams. Tuesday’s main was additionally a check of the state’s preparations to carry an election through the coronavirus pandemic.

Voting is a deeply felt and politically intense challenge in Georgia due to its lengthy historical past of disenfranchising black voters. The governor’s race was marred by accusations of voter suppression, notably of African-American and different minority voters, which Mr. Kemp denied.

This yr’s elections are bringing a brand new highlight to Georgia, which has two aggressive Senate races and for the primary time in a technology is expected to be a presidential battleground.

The workplace of Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state, blamed Tuesday’s issues on quite a lot of elements, together with a scarcity of skilled ballot staff due to fears concerning the coronavirus, and a studying curve in utilizing the brand new machines. “They don’t seem to be problems with the gear however a operate of counties participating in poor planning, restricted coaching, and failures of management,” mentioned an announcement issued by Ari Schaffer, a spokesman for Mr. Raffensperger, a Republican.

“We do have reviews of apparatus being delivered to the fallacious areas and delivered late,” Mr. Schaffer mentioned. “Now we have reviews of ballot staff not understanding setup or learn how to function voting gear.”

A lot of the skilled ballot staff in Georgia are over 70, Mr. Schaffer mentioned, and plenty of of them had opted to not work this election, afraid of contracting the virus.

Some voters who had proven up early within the morning on Tuesday expressed frustration over the lengthy wait instances, and plenty of mentioned on Twitter that voting machines had been down at their polling areas. The polls had been scheduled to shut at 7 p.m.

Clarice Kimp, who arrived at her poling place in DeKalb County on Tuesday morning earlier than 7, waited till 9:15 a.m. to vote, she mentioned in an interview, describing a chaotic scene.

“There have been imagined to be 12 individuals working there and there have been solely 4,” Ms. Kimp mentioned. “They may not get the voting machines to register voting playing cards they usually mentioned they may not attain the technicians.” Lastly, the ballot staff handed out provisional ballots, however they had been additionally in brief provide, Ms. Kimp mentioned.

Multiple million Georgia voters had already solid ballots earlier than Tuesday, most of them by mail, after Mr. Raffensperger despatched absentee poll purposes to all energetic voters.

However those that had voted in individual earlier than Tuesday at early-voting websites had already reported lengthy waits — in some circumstances as much as seven hours. New guidelines for social distancing and disinfecting voting machines had prompted a lot of these delays.

Matt Holmes mentioned the absentee poll he requested didn’t arrive, so he and his spouse went to an early voting web site on Friday on the Faculty Park Library. However the wait turned out to be six hours within the Georgia solar. “Tempers had been flaring,” Mr. Holmes mentioned, including that there have been not sufficient voting machines to accommodate the amount.

Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina and West Virginia had been additionally holding main elections on Tuesday, with out reviews of widespread issues.

Democrats in Georgia had been choosing a candidate for one of many two Senate races within the fall, to oppose an incumbent Republican, David Perdue. (The winner of the opposite seat will probably be chosen in a particular election in November with no main.) Georgia was additionally holding its presidential primaries, which had been postponed from March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The main contender within the Democratic Senate main is Jon Ossoff, 33, who turned one thing of a wunderkind candidate when he got here near flipping a Home seat in a 2017 particular election. He has tried to position himself as a center-left consensus builder with a specific deal with civil rights.

Mr. Ossoff has acquired endorsements from two of Georgia’s most outstanding Democratic congressmen, John Lewis and Hank Johnson, however he might face a runoff election if he fails to clear 50 p.c within the crowded area of seven candidates. If he’s to face a runoff, it can most definitely be in opposition to both Sarah Riggs Amico, a former candidate for lieutenant governor, or former Mayor Teresa Tomlinson of Columbus, Ga.

Mr. Ossoff, helped by nationwide title recognition and a fund-raising effort nonetheless in place from his 2017 run, injected a final minute jolt of money into the race, looking for to clear the 50 p.c threshold on the primary swing. If he does, he’ll grow to be the centerpiece of a statewide technique for Georgia Democrats, who’re aiming to not solely flip the state within the Electoral Faculty but additionally change the stability of energy on Capitol Hill.

  • Mr. Ossoff misplaced the 2017 particular election to Karen Handel, a Republican, in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District. However Ms. Handel misplaced the subsequent yr to Lucy McBath, a Democrat. Now Ms. Handel is the favourite in Tuesday’s Republican main to attempt to win again that seat. She faces 4 opponents in a district that was represented by Newt Gingrich for 20 years.

  • Georgia’s Seventh District was as soon as reliably Republican territory, but it surely consists of an more and more numerous part of metro Atlanta. Now there are contested primaries on either side for the seat held by Consultant Rob Woodall, a Republican who is just not working for re-election. Mr. Woodall gained by fewer than 500 votes in 2018, and his opponent in that race, Carolyn Bourdeaux, is once more looking for the Democratic nomination. One other Democrat within the race, Nabilah Islam, was endorsed by Consultant Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

  • Two Republican girls are the front-runners in a main in South Carolina’s First District, vying to problem Consultant Joe Cunningham, who flipped the Charleston-based seat in 2018 in a long-shot Democratic victory. Nancy Mace, the primary girl to graduate from the Citadel, is backed by the G.O.P. institution; Kathy Touchdown was endorsed by the conservative insurgents within the Home Freedom Caucus.

  • West Virginia Democrats will select between three candidates for governor who characterize the varied wings of the get together: Ben Salango, a county commissioner from Charleston, is an institution favourite endorsed by the state’s main labor unions and Senator Joe Manchin III; Stephen Smith, a progressive within the mildew of Senator Bernie Sanders, who carried the state handily within the 2016 Democratic presidential main; and Ron Stollings, a state senator who’s among the many few remaining conservative Democrats in elected workplace.

  • The incumbent West Virginia governor, Jim Justice, was elected as a Democrat in 2016, then switched events and gained the endorsement of President Trump. However he has additionally confronted calls to resign from fellow Republicans, federal investigations and lawsuits against his companies. He’s the state’s richest man and rarely spends time in Charleston, the capital. In Tuesday’s G.O.P. main, his closest competitors will come from Woody Thrasher, a former member of his cupboard.

  • In Nevada, Republicans are selecting challengers to Consultant Susie Lee within the Third District, which Mr. Trump gained by one proportion level in 2016, and Consultant Steven Horsford within the Fourth District, which Hillary Clinton gained by 4 factors. Mr. Horsford was first elected in 2012, then misplaced re-election in 2014 earlier than reclaiming the seat in 2018.

  • In North Dakota, there’s a Democratic main for the state’s at-large congressional district, which is represented by Kelly Armstrong, a Republican.

Astead W. Herndon reported from Atlanta, and Stephanie Saul from New York. Reporting was contributed by Nick Corasaniti, Catie Edmondson, Reid J. Epstein, Nicholas Fandos and Journey Gabriel.

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