A complete meltdown of electoral system was witnessed in Georgia as the state saw its residents stand in long queues for hours together to vote in primaries ahead of the November elections. Long lines were not the only problem. Many poll locations were not opening on the scheduled time with volunteers and workers totally perplexed by the new voting machines. These worst possible nightmares for an election day have made Georgia the new poster child of what perils the nationals might face to go vote, being a part of democracy while in pandemic.
For many, the chaotic situation in Georgia – mainly concentrated to the areas of Fulton and DeKalb counties, densely populated with African American majority – was what looked like predictable and intentional.
Bobby Fuse, a Georgia native who is also a Democratic activist said, “It’s the same game that we were fighting 50 years ago. There’s always some sneaky trick that’s played.”
Georgia is being considered as the key and potential battleground for November presidential elections that might be the major deciding factor. The chaos and mismanagement that happened in Tuesday’s meltdown of a situation in Georgia has raised questions over the voter disenfranchisement. There are also concerns over allegations by the activists that Republican officials in the state have deliberately tried to suppress the voters in African American communities.
What went wrong in Georgia primary elections?
The combination of high number of in-person voters and absentee ballots with low number of poll workers and inadequate number of polling stations created a havoc in Georgia as residents came to caste their vote. The situation was similar and quite anticipated to what happened in Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania in primaries last week.
The state was, however, unable to prepare for the situation well in advance. This is a warning for state officials to prepare for November – adequate number of polling booths and well trained sufficient officials and volunteers. With Congress having stalled funding for upcoming presidential elections to the states, the cautionary ciphers are piling up and time is running out.
Chairman of the US Election Commission said, “The election officials I talk to are aware of the challenges, but I know and I can see the real resource challenges, and all those things cost money. The $400 million in the CARES Act is a big deal but I think the costs are going to be significantly higher.”
The state of Georgia was neck deep in election troubles due to Covid-19 pandemic – many polling locations were cancelled or changed in the last hour due to pandemic closing down. Also, there were delayed opening of polling stations leading to miles long voting lines with people having to wait for at least 2-3 hours to caste their vote. In some counties the people stayed way up till 1 am to vote.
The problems in Georgia multiplied also because there were new voting machines that were unfamiliar to both the poll officials and the voters.
Vote-by-mail applications in Georgia data suggested that more Whites had opted for absentee ballots. That meant that the people coming in to vote would be majority of colour. On Tuesday when people went to vote, they met long lines and delayed starts.
This is not a good sign as the country is gearing towards presidential elections on November 3 and states are starting with their primary elections.