Election Day: Georgians hit the polls to choose next president

ATLANTA — It’s been a bruising 18 months, but it’s finally Election Day.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are neck-and-neck in Georgia, where a record 2.2 million voters cast their votes early.

A vast majority of those voters had a relatively smooth experience, although some waited in line at some metro Atlanta polling locations for more than three hours on some early voting days. That experience, however, may actually help officials on Election Day.

Fulton County, for example, expects to have fewer voters on Election Day than it did during early voting, likely easing lines on Tuesday and giving officials what they hope is some breathing room as polls close and they work to get overall vote counts in to the state.

Fulton County Elections Director Rick Barron said Tuesday afternoon that despite a few issues with checking in voters at some polling places, things have gone smoothly.

At one polling place in DeKalb County, voting was extended for an unknown reason. Polls at All Saints Catholic Church in Dunwoody will be open until 7:30 p.m.

Russell Lewis, chief investigator with the Secretary of State’s Office, said the office has opened 25 cases in total related to complaints during early voting — on par with the 2012 presidential election, he said. No widespread problems have been reported.

What you need to know:

  • Where do I vote? Find your polling place
  • Text poll troubles to 470-485-2WSB/470-485-2972
  • Live real-time election results from 50+ Georgia counties on wsbtv.com
  • Live coverage on wsbtv.com starting at 8 p.m. and ABC News at 7p.m.
  • Live reports from the field and analysis on Channel 2 Action News Nightbeat at 11

Long lines plagued some polling places

As voters arrived at the polls in metro Atlanta, some were met by long lines.

In southwest Atlanta, frustrated voters got backed up waiting when computers went down at Therell High School.

Poll workers told Channel 2's Steve Gelhbach that four computers that process the voters' information and issue cards to take to the actual voting machine came online went down for about 40 minutes around 8 a.m.

So while there were plenty of voting machines, only about five people were using them at any one time.

That caused a big backup and a line that snaked around the gym.

One voter said she stopped counting after about 30 people left in frustration.

"We had one young man, (it) was his first time voting, and he just got discouraged and he left,” said Shimisha Rawlings. “I don't think he's going to come back. We waited for almost an hour so he's not going to come back."

In South Fulton County, a glitch hit voting machines sending them down and causing lines to back up.

Channel 2's Audrey Washington learned that at one point, only three out of the eight machines were working at the polling location on Godby Road.

That caused the crowds to grow inside the polling place.

Officials worked to make repairs and brought in more machines, which helped alleviate the long lines.

Washington spoke with one voter who said no matter what, she was determined to stay in line.

"The lines were long but it was worth it, definitely worth it,” said voter Tamara Burns. "Because I wanted to show my girls what we had to go through to get to this point."

Clinton, Trump hold last-minute rallies Monday night

Trump and Clinton casted their own ballots on Tuesday, near their homes in New York state.

Both candidates campaigned late Monday night. Clinton held a midnight rally in the key state of North Carolina. The President, Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen joined her in Philadelphia.

Trump visited eight states in 24 hours, finishing early this morning in Michigan. He took shots at Clinton for her star-studded final acts.

“She gets Beyoncé and Jay Z. I like them. I like them. And you know what they do? I get bigger crowds than they do,” Trump said.

"Please, make a plan to vote. None of us want to wake up on Wednesday morning and wish we had done more,” Clinton said.


Keeping your vote safe

Georgia’s secretary of state says the state is ready for Tuesday’s election.

Only Channel 2 Action News was with Secretary of State Brian Kemp Monday as he toured the state, making sure everything was ready to go for Election Day.

"I really believe we're as prepared as anybody in the country," Kemp told Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant. "I just felt like it would be good for us to go around give voters' confidence that we have a secure system."

Diamant got exclusive access to Kemp, his team and their plane as they inspected local elections headquarters as he visited six cities across Georgia.

Kemp addressed concerns about potential threats to the Georgia elections system and the sophisticated, high-tech plans to handle them.

"The chances of it getting hacked or rigged are just negligible. There are a lot of other things that could be a lot easier to disrupt an election than that," Kemp told Diamant.

Kemp said with federal warnings about hackers and terrorists targeting state elections, he’s not taking the unprecedented level of preparedness for granted.

"Having redundancies, having backups, you know, and having plans with the ‘what-ifs,’" Kemp told Diamant.

Kemp’s chief investigator was with the group Monday that toured the state. Both told Diamant the reality is you never know what’s going to happen on Election Day until it does.

Kemp said, either way, they will be ready.

Diamant has exclusive access to Kemp's war room all night Tuesday. Watch Channel 2 Action News for live reports from inside.

Information from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was used in this report.