June 9 (UPI) — Long lines and voting machine glitches, especially in the Atlanta area, frustrated voters and officials in Georgia in a twice-delayed primary election Tuesday.
West Virginia and South Carolina voters also went to the polls Tuesday in elections delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. Nevada voters closed out a mail-in primary.
Former Vice President Joe Biden has effectively clinched the Democratic Party presidential nomination, as has Donald Trump for the GOP, after primary elections in other states. But Tuesday’s ballots also include congressional, state and local races.
In Atlanta, voters stood in long lines for hours in 80-degree heat. Inside polling places, some machines were not working, possibly because of inexperienced election personnel, officials said.
A civil rights group, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law threatened Tuesday to sue officials in Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett if counties don’t hold precincts open past 7 p.m., the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.
Gwinnett County election officials acknowledged that polling equipment was missing from some polling sites. “However, every voter who showed up to vote at all those polling places [was] about to cast an emergency ballot,” county officials tweeted.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, called the situation “unacceptable.”
“My office has opened an investigation to determine what these counties need to do to resolve these issues before November’s election,” Raffensperger said Tuesday.
Georgia officials said a record 1.2 million ballots have been received by mail, a logistical challenge for election officials who are accustomed to seeing fewer than 40,000 mail-in ballots per election. The ballots include the Democratic primary and candidates for Congress.
Because not all Georgia precincts will be open, the state has designated “mega polling locations” meant to handle 10,000 or more in-person voters.
Voters tweeted to Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms, who reported that polling machines were not working across the city. “Is this happening across the county or just on the south end?” Bottoms asked in a tweet.
In West Virginia, nearly 200,000 absentee ballots were received, officials said. In 2016, that figure was 6,700.
Gov. Jim Justice is fighting to keep his seat in a field of eight Republican contenders, including former state Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher and former delegate Mike Folk. There are also six Democratic candidates.
“Usually the incumbent is not challenged,” said Robert Rupp, a political science professor at West Virginia Wesleyan College. “This is history. The incumbent’s being seriously challenged.”
In South Carolina, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham faces three challengers seeking to block his fourth term. He will face Democrat Jaime Harrison in November.
Polling appeared to be running smoothly in South Carolina.
As of Tuesday 83,607 absentee ballots were returned for the Democrats and 80,380 for the Republicans, according to the South Carolina Election Commission.
In Nevada, Tuesday marks the end of an election conducted completely by mail. Republicans and Democrats made their presidential selections earlier this year through the caucus process. Tuesday’s vote will decide a slate of local races.
Biden needs 1,991 Democratic delegates at this summer’s national convention to receive the party’s nomination. While the delegates aren’t formally pledged until then, Biden surpassed the threshold on Friday.