Spalding County extends voting hours after issues with machines

SPALDING COUNTY, Ga. — Spalding County officials an issue with voting machines caused major problems at polling places across the county today.

A judge has ordered that voting be extended until 9 p.m. across the county. Voters who are in line by 7 p.m. can use the regular machines to cast their ballots. Voters who arrive from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. can cast a provisional ballot marked for extended voting times. Those votes will not be tabulated until Friday.

All Spalding County precincts closing time has been extended to 9pm EST, per court order issued by Superior Court Judge W. Fletcher Sams.

Posted by Spalding County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Officials say workers incorrectly loaded information onto the poll pads Tuesday morning so none of the machines were working.

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The county rushed thousands of provisional ballots to each precinct so voting could continue, but many voters spent much or the morning standing in line. Some chose to come back later in the day.

Channel 2′s Tom Jones was in Spalding County, where he went to the local election office to get answers. And elections board member and the elections supervisor said the vendor for the machines notified them at 7:05 a.m. that there was a problem with an overnight update to the system.

“They just said it was a glitch in the system and it would impact our process,” board chair Margaret Bentley said.

The glitch prevented the machines from connecting to voting cards, so instead, a poll manager had to use a code and his card for each voter. That caused long lines at some precincts and confusion at others. Some precincts had to use paper provisional ballots.

“Here we go back to the old way,” a poll worker said. “Sometimes, the old way is the best way.”

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At that precinct, voters had to fill out paper ballots. Some voters told us they don’t feel safe voting that way.

“Just the process that they’re using right now, we’re putting our ballots on a cardboard box and they’re saying they’re gonna put it in a suitcase and take it downtown for it to be counted. To me, that’s just not securing my vote enough for me,” Wilbert Blackman said. “I put my vote in but I feel like it’s not gonna count.”

UPDATE: Computers at polling places have been back up for several hours now. Most lines are short. There is plenty of...

Posted by Spalding County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Voters in the county couldn’t fathom how on Election Day the voting machines were not working.

“They’re weren’t prepared for this,” said one voter.

It was so bad two local elected officials went to the county elections office to find out what was going on.

“We need to investigate where the failure was,” said Rep. David Knight.

Ridley said she didn’t know why Spalding was the only county with this issue.

“That is a good question. We’re still trying to find the answer to,” Ridley said.

[What you need to bring with you to vote on Election Day]

If you are in line by 9 p.m., you are allowed to cast your ballot even if it it goes into the night.