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Georgia marred by technical problems, long lines on first day of early voting

A technical issue with voting infrastructure in Fulton County, Ga., on Monday led to delays on the first day of early voting, with the technical issue eventually being resolved. 

The issue with pollbooks, used to check voters in, was a concern during early voting at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, according to The Associated Press. Fulton County encompasses much of the city. 

“While early voting is going well overall, we are experiencing technical issues at @StateFarmArena that are causing delays in voting at that location,” Fulton County tweeted Monday morning. “We apologize for the inconvenience. Technicians are onsite to help address the issue. Thank you for your patience.”

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The county reported around an hour later that voting was again “underway.”

“Fulton County Elections quickly worked to resolve a small technical matter,” county officials tweeted. “The county appreciates the patience [of] all voters choosing to cast their ballot at State Farm.”

Dominion Voting Systems, one of the largest voting equipment manufacturers in the country, was awarded a $107 million contract by the state last year to implement a “verified paper ballot system.” 

A spokesperson for the company referred The Hill to Fulton County, noting that Dominion “has no involvement in the matter.”

Pollbook issues were also partially to blame for long lines in both Fulton and Dekalb counties during the Georgia primary election in June, along with the consolidation of polling sites due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The primary election was one of the first major tests for the new equipment, which was installed following a 2019 federal ruling that required Georgia to phase out paperless machines by 2020. 

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Georgia is expecting record voter turnout this year. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's (R) office reported that as of Oct. 6, over 7.5 million Georgia residents had registered to vote, an increase of over 600,000 voter registrations as compared to the 2018 midterm elections. 

The technical glitch came the day after U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg rejected a request by a coalition of voting rights advocates to move Georgia to hand-marked paper ballots instead of using voter-verifiable voting machines. 

Totenberg, who was nominated by former President Obama, ruled that it would be impossible for state and local election officials to change the voting process this close to Election Day, but encouraged both Dominion and state authorities to enhance security in advance of future elections. 

“The Court recognizes the major challenges facing the Secretary of State’s Office in rapidly implementing a new statewide voting system,” Totenberg wrote in a 147-page ruling. “Yet the vital issues identified in this case will not disappear or be appropriately addressed without focused State attention, resources, ongoing serious evaluation by independent cybersecurity experts, and open-mindedness.”

Totenberg — who ruled earlier last month that Raffensperger must immediately send paper pollbooks with lists of all registered voters to precincts ahead of Election Day —noted that the plaintiffs had provided “convincingly present evidence” of the potential for hackers to interfere in voting, but that this was not enough for the time being. 

“Electoral dysfunction – cyber or otherwise – should not be desired as a mode of proof,” Totenberg wrote. “It may well land unfortunately on the State’s doorstep. The Court certainly hopes not.”