A Channel 2 crew say The Knights of Columbus, serving as a polling site on Buford Highway near Sidney Marcus Boulevard, is at capacity. A parking lot attendant is assisting drivers trying navigate the gridlock.
Scores of voters spent the afternoon in line to cast their ballots in the 2012 election.
Most metro Atlanta polling stations were running smoothly, but a slew of problems, primarily in Fulton County, caught the attention of state officials. The issues ranged from broken machines to power outages.
All hands were on deck at the Georgia Election Protection Legal Committee’s headquarters in midtown Atlanta. Volunteer attorneys with the nonpartisan election watchdog group said they were getting slammed with phone calls throughout the day.
“They’re coming in pretty much constantly,” Chairwoman Sarah Shalf told Channel 2’s Aaron Diamant.
Most calls came from Fulton County, where voters complained of precincts with outdated voter rolls. Voters such as Kimberly McMullen said they were still listed at old addresses. Some whose information had been updated with the Secretary of State’s Office were still forced to fill out provisional ballots.
“It’s been very frustrating, because somebody dropped the ball and no one wants to pick it up,” she told Diamant.
The problem got so bad that Secretary of State Brian Kemp weighed in.
“What really concerns me about Fulton is we’re talking about dozens, maybe even hundreds,” Kemp said.
When Channel 2 pressed the county’s interim elections director for answers, she said it was a training problem.
“There was some misunderstanding on what the process entailed to. We have since taken a proactive role by contacting all of our poll managers to go over that process with them,” interim director Sharon Mitchell said.
Mitchell said complaint calls significantly decreased after managers reinformed workers about supplementary rolls and overriding when necessary.
Voter after voter vented to Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik about wait times at a location at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church in Sandy Springs. At one point, the wait reached close to two hours. Officials said equipment went down.
Elsewhere in north Fulton, County Commissioner Liz Hausmann gave poll workers at a Milton location an earful about the lack of people checking voters.
“I've asked for an explanation. I've requested more check-in stations. I've requested they look at other large precincts," she said.
In south Fulton County, Channel 2 Action News learned that a problem with electronic voting machines left some voters out in the cold.
Several voters notified Channel 2 Action News of complaints of locked machines at the Palmetto Senior Center. A poll worker told Channel 2’s Rachel Stockman he was given the wrong key, so he couldn’t turn on the eight machines. So for about an hour, voters were given the option of filling out a provisional ballot.
“We were standing in the rain waiting for the polls to open. We were told that the polls were locked and they could not unlock them, and Fulton County pulled up and had the wrong keys. We were still waiting outside,” voter Charlene Montgomery said.
“It was crazy. It was absolutely crazy, we had a lot of irritated people,” Patty Willey, another voter, said.
Mitchell said that system assesses problems within 15 minutes and crews are dispatched to take corrective action immediately; whether it means sending more poll workers or fixing or replacing voting and voter check-in machines.
In Georgia, so far, approximately 1.9 million residents participated in early voting. Officials said 152,563 voted early in Fulton, 161,095 voted early in DeKalb, 129,769 voted early in Cobb, 107,788 voted early in Gwinnett and 52,546 people cast early ballots in Clayton County.
Polls are open until 7 p.m. Voters in line before 7 a.m. can cast ballots. Everyone must vote at their assigned location. Peak hours are from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. and during the lunch hour.