Hundreds of voters turned out on Monday, May 18 for the start of early voting. They were met by long lines and extensive waiting times.
Felicia Johnson was among the voters who showed up. She said the process took over four hours.
“Bring your patience, chair, umbrella and a snack,” she posted on Facebook. “Today it took almost 4.5 hours, but was well worth the wait. I reflected on the blood, sweat, tears and lives that were sacrificed by our ancestors just to be able to vote. 4.5 hours is the least I can do.”
Others weren’t so gracious about waiting around for hours. In response, the Department of Registration & Elections is making adjustments to better accommodate voters.
Hours will be expanded so voting will start two hours earlier at 7 a.m. starting today, May 20. Polling areas have been enlarged to accommodate more voters at the South Fulton Service Center, C.T. Martin Recreation Center and Alpharetta Library, and more voting machines are being added at the Garden Hills Elementary School and Sandy Springs Library.
Additional ballot scanners are also being added. And all sites are being evaluated to determine if more adjustments will be needed.
Efforts to support social distancing are partly to blame for the elongated process at the polls. Additionally, elections staff have had to spend additional time to cancel absentee ballots for voters who requested them, but then opted to vote in person.
Some aren’t comfortable using absentee ballots, but Donovan Ringo is encouraging his neighbors to use them. He’s been sharing a website that he developed with an absentee ballot application with other South Fulton residents.
“This is a big election year and I don’t want people to be deterred to vote,” he said.
Voters who opt to use absentee ballots should factor in enough time for them to be mailed. They need to arrive in county election offices before polls close on June 9 to be counted.
Voters can check the status of their absentee ballots after they mail them on the state’s My Voter Page at www.mvp.sos.ga.gov.