Chatham Co. polling places see long lines, possible voting issues
SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - As people made their way out to vote Tuesday, they were faced with long lines. Some voters waited hours to cast their vote.
Right now, the Chatham County Board of Elections says they just didn’t anticipate this many people to come out and vote in this election.
Lines of people wrapped around buildings at polling locations as they waited to cast their votes. Some locations were only working off a few machines. Savannah High only had one voting machine for part of the morning. By noon, they were able to secure a second voting machine. One of two polling machines at the Moses Jackson Center on Richard Street were broken during the morning. Some people at the Savannah First Seventh Day Adventist said they waited in line for two hours to cast their vote. One of their machines was broken. In Pooler, some folks didn’t get to cast their vote until after 10 p.m.
We spoke to the chairman of the Board of Elections Wednesday, who says they deploy the voting machines by the last mid-term election numbers. He says they have to test machines and make sure they are calibrated before they can be used. He says it takes time to set up and they can’t just get another machine for a location at any moment.
“So, there were at least as many machines as there were last mid-term,” said Tom Mahoney, Chatham County Board of Elections Chairman. “It wasn’t that we deployed fewer machines, you know, there was just a huge voter turnout and we really won’t ever have enough machines so there are no lines. There is always going to be, well hopefully, you know, if people come to vote there will be a line.”
Mahoney went on to apologize for the lack of machines, saying that machine deployment was based on the people that were registered to a specific polling place. We spoke to several voters about their wait times. Some say it took hours and others say they didn’t wait that long.
“I’m pretty frustrated, especially when I get in there and there are only four polling stations and one for handicapped,” said voter, Mike Immings. “That’s not right. There is something going on.”
“So far, it went pretty smooth today,” said voter, Alexander Zinn. “It was a little bit longer than I expected. It took about 45 minutes, but not too bad. It was worth the wait.”
We spoke to a lady who says her son waited an hour in line just to be turned away. The precinct says he mailed in an absentee vote, but he claims he never even requested one.
“He asked the question, ‘how could anyone vote for me, you know, I have my ID, this is who I am. How can anyone cast my vote," said voter, Antoinnette Jones. “And the person in charge explained to him that an absentee ballot was sent in by my husband and it was credited to my son for the vote."
“As you have higher turnouts, you’re going to have more incidents of all kinds of issues,” Mahoney said. “That’s why I urge everyone to prepare ahead of time and look at the My Voter page.”
The digital voting is faster than the absentee voting, which is done on paper. Wednesday, staff of absentee clerks and elections staff are working to finish calculating those absentee votes for Chatham County. They still have over 1,600 left to count. They hope to finish by night.
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