Extremely long lines at the polls during the Georgia primary that caused voters to wait as long as eight hours to cast ballots were a source of chaos in the election, which had already been postponed because of coronavirus. Now former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is considering suing over the conundrum, according to Atlanta station WSB-TV.
“As we watched what unfolded today, we knew that we were in the midst of a disaster,” said Abrams in a video conference. She founded voting rights advocacy nonprofit Fair Fight to address this exact issue. “What we know happened this week, this month, and this process is that the best intentions met the worst preparations, and we found ourselves in the midst of both incompetence and malfeasance.”
Poll workers reportedly could not get machines to work, precincts did not open on time and social distancing requirements made lines longer than usual, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. But those problems were developing over the course of weeks as precincts were shut down and workers quit.
But that became even worse when Georgia’s new $104 million voting system malfunctioned.
“If there was a failure of leadership, it starts where the buck should stop, at the top. The eradication of any ‘learning curve’ rests squarely at the feet of the Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, and his office,” said DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond.
In a statement, Abrams also laid the blame on Raffensperger.
“Georgians deserve better. I voted today because of absentee ballot defect,” Abrams said. “From Jasper to Fulton to Coffee and Chatham, long lines, inoperable machines and under-resourced communities are being hurt. The Georgia Secretary of State owns this disaster. He must stop finger-pointing and fix it.”
Raffensperger said his office has launched an investigation into what happened.
“Obviously, the first time a new voting system is used there is going to be a learning curve, and voting in a pandemic only increased these difficulties,” Raffensperger told the AJC. “But every other county faced these same issues and were significantly better prepared to respond so that voters had every opportunity to vote.”