People wait in line to vote early at the State Farm Arena on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
People wait in line to vote early at the State Farm Arena on Oct. 12, 2020, in Atlanta.

WASHINGTON - Early voting in the U.S. presidential election in the southern state of Georgia was snarled for a couple hours Monday before the electronic pollbooks were fixed and voting resumed.  

Voters at some polling places encountered hours of delay and long lines as a record number of people turned out on the state’s first day of early balloting ahead of Election Day Nov. 3. 

Georgia’s secretary of state’s office reported 126,876 people voted Monday, a 41% increase from the first day of early voting in 2016. 

Early voting has now started in 40 of the 50 U.S. states.  More than 10.3 million people have cast ballots, according to the United States Election Project.  In several states, including Vermont, Virginia and South Dakota, the number of ballots cast has already exceeded 20% of the state’s entire total from 2016. 

The figures could indicate a combination of factors, from enthusiasm about having a say in the race between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden as well as congressional races, to the ways in which the coronavirus pandemic is prompting voters to seek other ways to cast ballots other than in-person on Election Day. 

Calvin Stalling, of Atlanta wears a "Black Lives Matter" mask while he waits in a line to vote early at the State Farm Arena on Oct. 12, 2020.

In Atlanta, the Georgia capital and the state’s biggest city, some voters showed up before dawn to be among the first in line.  

Some people were able to vote right away at the State Farm Arena where the city’s professional basketball team plays, but the line of voters quickly ground to a halt as glitches materialized in the electronic pollbooks used to check in voters. It was the largest early voting site in the state, with 300 voting stations set up.   

But by midmorning, election officials resolved issues with the pollbooks and voting resumed.  

"We're disappointed that it happened," Steve Koonin, the basketball team’s chief executive, told reporters. But he noted that there are still plenty of early voting days remaining before the official Election Day in three weeks.  

State election officials also reported long lines of voters elsewhere in Georgia, in addition to problems with the balky pollbooks.   

Biden has endorsed early voting, but Trump has offered a mixed view.  

Trump says absentee voting is legitimate for people who request a mail-in ballot. But the president has assailed state elections officials who have mailed ballots to all voters in their states, saying, without evidence, that it will lead to massive fraud and an election outcome rigged against him. 

What Happens Next?

What It Means to Become President-Elect in the US

In the United States, Democrat Joe Biden is being called the president-elect.

President-elect is a descriptive term not an official office. As such, Biden has no power in the government, and he would not until he is inaugurated at noon on January 20, 2021.

American news networks, which track all of the vote counting, determined on November 7 that Biden’s lead had become insurmountable in Pennsylvania, putting him over the 270 electoral votes needed to be president. Within minutes of determining his lead was mathematically assured, they projected him as the winner.

That is why news organizations, including VOA, are calling Biden the "projected winner."

Sometimes, in the case of particularly close elections, when news networks make this call, the other candidate does not concede victory. President Donald Trump has not done so, alleging voter fraud without substantial evidence and vowing to fight on. The president’s position has left Washington lawmakers divided, with Republicans backing a legal inquiry into allegations of vote fraud, even as they celebrate other congressional lawmakers who won their races.

When will the dispute be resolved?

The U.S. election won’t be officially certified for weeks. In the meantime, court challenges and state recounts could occur.

So far, the Trump administration has not provided evidence for any fraud that could overturn the result, but there is still time for more legal challenges.

Once states have certified the vote, pledged electors then cast their votes in the Electoral College in mid-December. Congress then certifies the overall Electoral College result in early January, about two weeks before Inauguration Day.