Many communities in Georgia have experienced voting catastrophes on during the primary elections on Tuesday and people are speaking out. According to NBC News, majority-minority counties have especially been hit hard with hour-long waits, new voting machine issues, and a lack of available ballots.
“This seems to be happening throughout Atlanta and perhaps throughout the county. People have been in line since before 7:00 am this morning,” tweeted Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms not too long after polls were supposed to open — and in some instances still hadn’t.
At one Atlanta location, the Lang Carson Community Center, the line stretched around the block and some people had been waiting to vote for four and a half hours.
Long lines were also reported in parts of Fulton, DeKalb and Gwinnett counties.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said his office plans on opening an investigation into what these counties “need to do to resolve these issues before November’s election,” he said in a statement, calling the issues in Fulton and DeKalb “unacceptable.”
Meanwhile in Roswell, a mostly white Atlanta suburb, things were running much more smoothly. One resident voter said “There were problems with the voting systems for approximately 25 minutes. Afterward, it was smooth sailing.”
Folks also had issues over absentee voting. Voters were turned away at sites because records listed that they filed for absentee voting. However, these voters never received their ballot or the ballot didn’t arrive in time for them to send in.
“When they showed up to try and vote in person, they were blocked because the system had indicated they already had an absentee ballot, which, again, they said they never received,” Atlanta voter, Nicholas Roth said.
Georgia also switched to a new voting system involving new voting machines earlier this year. The system was created by Dominion Voting Systems after a previous lawsuit accused the old systems of not being secure.
Raffensperger blamed Tuesday’s voting issues on local officials while the state Democratic Party pointed the finger at him, saying his office failed to provide “adequate support and training.”
Many Black leaders and organizations slammed Tuesday’s catastrophe as well.
Kristen Clarke, the president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said:
“These problems were avoidable yet recurring problems in Georgia that are resulting in the potential disfranchisement of voters across the state. The state has had its share of voting challenges in the recent past and should have been better prepared for this moment.”
LaTosha Brown and Cliff Albright, the co-founders of the Black Voters Matter Fund, released a statement saying:
“What we’re seeing across the state of Georgia right now is the complete and total failure of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and other state representatives to protect our elections.”
The two also called out reports that people hadn’t received their absentee ballots in the mail, calling it a “public health disaster” considering folks are still being cautious because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The state of Georgia has a long history of voter suppression reaching back decades, particularly against Black voters,” the statement continued. “In 2017, Georgia passed some of the strictest voter ID laws in the country, which were sanctioned by Governor Brian Kemp. In 2018, we saw a federal lawsuit filed by Fair Fight Action because many people were unable to vote due to gross mismanagement of the election process. Today’s fiasco at the polls is part of a problematic tradition that disenfranchises Black people and attempts to strip our communities of our voting power.”
Star basketball player LeBron James added to the conversation on Twitter writing:
“Everyone talking about ‘how do we fix this?’ They say ‘go out and vote?’ What about asking if how we vote is also structurally racist?”
In one viral video, one voter pleaded, “This is wrong. This is America. Please God, help us. I mean it. This is a crisis in our world to make us not exercise our right to vote.”
You can check out more horrific voting stories in the clips below.