FULTON COUNTY, Ga. -- Internet connectivity issues and multiple ballots are being blamed for long lines at the Fulton County polls on the last day of early voting in the 6th District special election.
Friday night, the Secretary of State's office confirmed that Fulton County was having IP connectivity issues, which impacted voters' abilities to check in at their precinct to cast their ballots. Because of that, some election locations were having to verbally verify each voter's identity, causing wait times at the polls to stretch on for hours.
Polls were set to close at 6 p.m., but several 11Alive viewers reported nearly 4-hour waits at both the Roswell Library in Roswell, Ga. and the Ocee Library in Johns Creek, Ga. Both locations are in north Fulton County, which belongs to Georgia's 6th Congressional District.
Spokesperson for the Fulton County Board of Elections Richard Barron confirmed that those polling locations did experience an issue with electronically checking people in starting at 6:30. However, he said the problem leading to long wait times was more complex than that.
According to Barron, both Johns Creek and Roswell had an extra ballot to vote on in addition to the 6th District election. In Johns Creek, voters had to fill a vacant position after a city official resigned to run for the congressional election. In Roswell, voters were deciding the outcome from a March runoff.
Because of this, voters had to verbally check in for both elections, had to be issued two separate voting cards and had to physically vote twice for each ballot. That -- coupled with the outage and already high turnout for the final day of early voting in a heated election -- created a "perfect storm" of long wait times.
Barron told 11Alive for the most part, average wait times at most Fulton County polling locations were about 90 minutes to two hours, but acknowledged that wait times at Roswell and Ocee Libraries were likely longer. He did say that as long as voters were in line before the polls closed, they were eligible to cast their ballot. Barron said Tuesday voting would go on as planned, noting that there would be many more places for people to vote outside of the seven early voting locations.
Both Barron and the Secretary of State's office, said they were confident there were no problems with the voting equipment itself, but the secretary's office did say that they will be looking further into the issue. The secretary's office said they would know by Monday whether any further investigation is needed.
Friday was the last day for early voting in the 6th District special election which was called after former Rep. Tom Price was tapped to be the secretary of Health and Human Services for President Donald Trump. 11Alive has been covering the race extensively since then.
So far, Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff is leading more than a dozen candidates in the polls for a district seat that includes portions of north Fulton, DeKalb and Cobb counties and has long been held by Republicans.
Early voting for the special election began on March 27. As of Wednesday, more than 32,000 ballots had been cast. Barron told 11Alive that at the Ocee location alone, there were nearly 1,300 early voting ballots cast -- a number he said they usually see in presidential elections.
Here's the breakdown for early voting in each county:
- Fulton County -- 18,545
- Cobb County -- 8,040
- DeKalb County -- 5,778
Election Day is Tuesday, April 18. If no clear winner is decided, a runoff election will have to be held June 20.