Election Day 2018: Lines so long at Atlanta polling place volunteers ordered pizza for voters

Long lines and broken machines are just some of the issues voters reported across metro Atlanta when they got to the polls Tuesday morning.

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Technical issues caused long lines and forced voters to resort to paper ballots in at least two Gwinnett County precincts Tuesday morning.

Gwinnett County officials confirmed that the electronic Express Polls — which are used to check voters into their precincts — were temporarily down at Anderson-Livsey Elementary School near Snellville. The line of hundreds of waiting voters stretched the entire length of the school.

Around 10:20 a.m., Gwinnett County spokesman Joe Sorenson said the issues at Anderson-Livsey had been resolved — but confirmed that similar problems continued at the Annistown Elementary School precinct, about four miles to the south.

Sorenson said the Express Polls issue was not electrical and happens from time to time. New equipment will be brought in, he said.

In the meantime, poll workers were able to use paper voter rolls and voters were able to cast paper ballots. Those ballots, which are akin to standardized testing forms, are later scanned by machines, not by people, and county officials said the paper ballots will be counted.

They also said the problems might have had something to do with the cards used on the machines.

Some voters said they don’t trust paper ballots.

“I don’t like that because of the problems they’ve had in the past with the paper ballots. I wanted to come in, do my voting and get out and that didn’t happen today,” one voter said.

“It was very frustrating," another voter said.

Some left, but vowed to return after the machines were fixed.

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The issues at Annistown were resolved just before noon.

Congressman Hank Johnson went to the location and encouraged the voters who left to return and for those in line, to stay in line.

"I'm heartened by the number of people standing in this long line and they are seeing it through regardless of the obstacles," Johnson said.

In southwest Atlanta, hundreds of voters reported extremely long lines at their precinct.

Voters at Pittman Park in Fulton County said at one point they had been standing in line for hours because the precinct had just three voting machines. Volunteers passed out pizza and drinks to feed and hydrate the patient voters.

"We are passing out snacks to people who have been waiting a long time," a volunteer said.

Reverend Jesse Jackson got word of the long lines and stopped by to encourage voters to stick around and to make a point.

"This is designed to discourage people, but they will not be discourage they will show and fight back," Jesse said.

Just before 1 p.m., Fulton County elections officials delivered five more voting machines to the precinct.

What to do if you have issues at the polls?

So what should you do if you have issues at the polls?

Volunteers at polling places are trained to help voters get their ballots to the right place, and to take a person's ballot even if they are having problems with casting their vote.

If you are having a problem voting, tell someone.

Speak with a poll worker before you finish voting.

If you do not get help from a poll worker, ask to speak to a supervisor.

If your problem is not resolved, you can report the issue to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

What kind of problems should be reported?

  • Polls closing early (meaning they close even if you were in line to vote before closing time)
  • Not having enough ballots
  • Being intimidated or pressured to vote for a particular candidate
  • Challenging identifications - 34 states require voter identification to cast a ballot; of them, 18 require voters to present photo identification and 16 accept other forms of identification. Click here to find outwhat your state requires before you vote.
  • Dealing with ballots that are confusing
  • No help or lack of help with voting procedures for people with limited ability to speak English
  • No accommodation for handicapped voters

What should you do if you are turned away without casting a ballot?

If you do not have the proper identification to vote at your polling place, you should be given a provisional ballot.

A provisional ballot is used to record a vote when there are questions about a voter's eligibility.

Provisional ballots are the same ballot you would get under regular circumstances.

It allows you to vote then election officials will work to verify your eligibility to cast a ballot.

Per federal law, poll workers are required to give you a provisional ballot.

What if you make a mistake when filling out your ballot?

If you make a mistake when voting, go to a poll worker and ask for help.

You will be given a new ballot. The ballot with the mistake will be destroyed.

In many cases, you can correct your ballot yourself if you vote using electronic voting devices, or are using pencils to complete the ballot.

Again, ask for help from a poll worker if you need to make changes in your ballot and are unsure how to do it.

Tyler Estep and Amanda C. Coyne with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Debbie Lord with Cox Media Group National Content Des contributed to this article

Credit: Bob Andres

Credit: Bob Andres

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