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Athens Will Open Overflow Site After Long Lines for Early Voting

The line for early voting at the ACC Board of Elections Monday stretched around the block. Credit: Blake Aued

Athens voters waited hours to vote on Monday, the first day of early voting, and the county Board of Elections is opening an overflow site to help handle the crowds on Tuesday.

Voters began to line at up at about 6:20 a.m.—nearly two hours before the Board of Elections office opened at 8 a.m.—according to Charlotte Sosebee, director of elections and voter registration. One voter told Flagpole he arrived at 7:45 a.m. and waited about four hours.

The Board of Elections started the day with four ballot-marking devices because of social distancing requirements inside the tiny office. Poll workers brought out more equipment around 10 a.m., Sosebee said.

Monday afternoon, the line still wrapped around City Hall, down Washington Street and College Avenue and part of the block down Hancock Avenue. But voters at the front of the line said they had only waited about an hour-and-a-half to two hours. Several people said they had the day off (Monday was Columbus Day) and wanted to go ahead and cast their ballots despite the line.

Starting Tuesday, Sosebee said City Hall next door will be available as an overflow site.

Georgia Public Broadcasting reported soaring turnout all over the state compared to previous elections, despite the fact that more than 1.5 million voters have requested absentee ballots. Waits as long as five hours in Cobb County and eight hours in Gwinnett were reported. In addition to the pandemic and high turnout, poll workers are still dealing with glitches in Georgia’s new voting equipment.

Historically, early voting starts out light and gets heavier closer to Election Day. One election expert, ProPublica’s Jessica Huseman, attributed Georgia’s first-day long lines to enthusiasm.

Voters who are willing to wait a while longer to line up shouldn’t have to deal with waiting in line. ACC plans to open four additional early voting sites—at the ACC Library, Miriam Moore Community Center, ACC Extension office and the tennis center at Southeast Clarke Park—Saturday, Oct. 24 through Friday, Oct. 30. Click here for more information.

In addition, after initially rejecting early voting on campus, the University of Georgia will open up a voting site at Stegeman Coliseum Tuesday, Oct. 27 through Thursday, Oct. 29.