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.
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.