As voters nationwide begin casting their ballots through mail-in and early voting during the pandemic, many are facing several obstacles in trying to make their voices heard.
On the first day of Georgia’s early in-person voting, many residents stood in line for six hours or more to cast their ballots in Cobb County. The historically Republican county, which has voted for Democrats in recent elections, saw lines of voters snaked around polling places.
Election officials and voting advocacy groups have encouraged citizens nationwide to vote early as they expect a record number of voters for this year’s presidential election.
“We’d prepared as much as we could, but there’s only so much space in the rooms and parking in the parking lot. We’re maxing out both of those,” Cobb County Elections and Registration Director Janine Eveler said. “People are double parking, we have gridlock pretty much in our parking lot,” she added.
At least two counties briefly had problems with the electronic poll books used to check in voters, and voting stopped temporarily at the Atlanta Hawks State Farm Arena, Georgia’s largest early voting site. On-site technicians resolved the problem and the lines soon cleared, allowing residents to vote at one of the arena’s 300 polling machines.
Despite the long, socially-distanced lines and glitches in Atlanta and surrounding suburbs, many were determined to vote and remained in good spirits. So far, Georgia’s problems pale in comparison to what voters experienced during the state’s June primary, which was plagued with technical difficulties with electronic pollbooks, the consolidation of polling places and a shortage of poll workers due to the pandemic.
On the west coast of the country, several California residents complained of what appeared to be unauthorized ballot drop boxes in Los Angeles, Orange, and Fresno counties. According to an investigation by California Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s office, California Republicans have set them up to collect ballots.
The metal boxes, which claim to be “official,” have been reported at local political party offices, churches, and headquarters for GOP candidates.
“Operating unofficial ballot drop boxes — especially those misrepresented as official drop boxes — is not just misleading to voters, it’s a violation of state law,” Padilla said.
The California Republican Party did not respond to the Register’s requests for comments, nor did individual GOP operatives who have implicated themselves on social media. Punishment for election fraud can result in a felony conviction with prison time of two to four years.
In response to the acts by California’s GOP, Slate judiciary staff writer Mark Joseph Stern tweeted, “California Republicans are allegedly creating fake drop boxes and tricking voters into depositing their ballots in them. Apparently they’re trying to prove voter fraud is real by committing actual election fraud.”