Delays with the state’s voter registration system are being followed by technical glitches that are disrupting early voting. The problems are creating long lines and frustration during the high-stakes election.
(TNS) — The first week of early voting once again tested
An overloaded statewide voter registration system, combined with high turnout, created long lines of frustrated voters, raising questions with two weeks of early voting remaining: Have the problems been solved, or was last week a precursor to larger challenges as
By late Friday, the office of Secretary of State
"We can assure voters that our office and county election officials are doing everything they can to ensure a good voting experience for the record number of voters turning out to vote even during a pandemic," Raffensperger's deputy,
There were some encouraging signs as the week progressed.
Wait times that initially exceeded eight hours in some of the metro area's largest counties were gone.
Local election officials across
"We aren't seeing a drop-off" in voters, Fulton Elections Director
Already, over 687,000 votes had been cast across
During the 2016 election, over 252,000 voters cast ballots on the final day of early voting. This year, turnout could exceed 400,000 on the last day of early voting on
Barron said Friday that the statewide computer system that checks in voters, called eNet, seemed to be functioning at about 80% of its normal speed.
The breakdowns concern voting rights advocates who worry long lines suppress voting.
"Some people are posting about missing appointments, missing time with families, missing meals. That's a huge sacrifice that no voter should have to do to cast their ballots." said
And frustrations boiled over last week for some local election officials who have had to improvise and develop workarounds to compensate for the state system's failures.
Coffee County Election Supervisor
"The state was screaming at us, to be prepared for the biggest election of our life, I wish the state prepared eNet for the biggest election of eNet's life. We cannot even enter the applications," she wrote.
Problems with eNet are not new.
The state contracts with
As the week progressed, Royston said her team deployed additional machines and check-in stations at the main office and increased staff at some locations to help manage the large number of voters showing up.
She said by the end of Wednesday, the speed of the state system had started to improve. Royston is trying to prepare her staff and poll workers for whatever comes in the next couple of weeks. The county is still about 200 poll workers short of its goal of 1,827 for
"We're evaluating everything to say if this happens again we'll be prepared for it," she said. "How do we take what we've learned and apply to the larger crowd that's coming? I think the main thing is knowing now it's a possibility. Let's be ready with our options if it happens."
"We started to have to look at alternate ways to look up voters," said Hamilton, who said the county started checking registrations through a separate backup system.
Some counties are relying on a
About 80 counties across
Election officials said this can cut down wait times by five to 10 minutes per voter. And with the state's database slow or malfunctioning for half the week, the EasyVote system became a lifeline for many counties. At times, it was the only way for frontline workers to verify voters were registered and to efficiently check them in to vote.
"It has been a godsend for us," Paulding Elections Supervisor
The workaround, however, created another step in the process for tracking who voted. Local election officials who used the company's system to verify voters had to later enter into the state's eNet system that the voters had, indeed, cast a ballot. This meant election officials were sometimes working into the night after the polls closed to update the information.
"It's been a crazy year for elections," Nash said. "It's hard to keep up."
On Friday, even EasyVote's system proved imperfect. The company had a 30-minute crash that affected its early voting software. The company's CEO,
"We're trying to do everything we can," Davis said. "We've got a lot of work over the next two weeks to make sure we can keep this system up."
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