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Georgia primary election | Officials work through night to get results as system failures cause delays

We'll bring updates throughout the night as Georgians wait for election results.

ATLANTA — While most precincts have closed, some remain open. As Georgia voters took to the polls today to cast their ballots in a number of crucial primary elections, many faced chaotic and disorganized situations.

RELATED: Georgia election results

Georgia is making national news over the voting issues that have been seen most notably around Atlanta, but in other pockets around the state as well.

We'll continue tracking developments and bring you breaking results as they come in.

Did you still see long lines or have other issues with casting your vote? Email us at news@11alive.com.

11:45 p.m.: Georgia Democrats are giving U.S. Rep. John Lewis their nomination for an 18th term in Congress representing Atlanta as he defeats Barrington Martin II.  

11:15 p.m.: Jon Ossoff has a clear lead in the Democratic primary, but it is unclear whether he will be able to receive a majority of the votes and stave off a runoff. Get election results here

11:10 p.m.: Incumbent state Supreme Court Justice Sarah Warren has defeated Dougherty County prosecutor and former local judge Hal Moroz in a nonpartisan general election for a six-year term.  Then-Gov. Nathan Deal appointed Warren in 2018. She previously served as the state’s solicitor general from 2017 to 2018 and worked in the Georgia attorney general’s office for several years before that. Warren also worked in President George W. Bush’s administration. 

10:30 p.m.: In east Georgia, Democrats are giving 2018 challenger Tabitha Johnson-Greene another shot at incumbent Republican Rep. Jody Hice in the 10th Congressional district. 

10:15 p.m.: Moments ago, 3,000 absentee ballots arrived for Fulton County election workers to begin processing. Once they are processed, they can begin counting them. 

10:10 p.m.: The final precinct has officially closed, however, dozens still remain in line to vote at the Ray of Hope Christian Church in DeKalb County. Any voters in line will still be able to vote by way of a provisional ballot. 

9:30 p.m.: Fulton County election director Richard Barron says the pandemic and large increase in mail voting “created unique staffing and logistical challenges.” Barron says his team had “identified several areas for improvement” in November. 

9:15 p.m.:  In South Georgia, incumbent Republicans Buddy Carter and Austin Scott each won bids for another term in Congress. Carter defeated Republican challengers Danny Merritt and Ken Yasger in coastal Georgia's 1st District. Scott rolled past Daniel Ellyson and Robert Vance Dean in middle and south Georgia's 8th District. 

9:01 p.m.: Absentee ballots are being counted in Fulton County. 

8:30 p.m.: DeKalb County says the six precincts that had varying times to remain open past 7 p.m. will now all close at 9:30 p.m. One precinct will remain open until 10:10 p.m.

The following precincts will now be open until 9:30 p.m.:

  • Narvie J. Harris Elementary, 3981 McGill Drive, Decatur
  • Clarkston Community Center, 3701 College Ave., Clarkston
  • Medlock Elementary School, 2418 Wood Trail Lane, Decatur
  • Stephenson High School, 701 Stephenson Road, Stone Mountain
  • Stephenson Middle School, 922 Stephenson Road, Stone Mountain
  • Kittredge Magnet School, 1663 East Nancy Creek Drive NE, Atlanta

This precinct will remain open until 10:10 p.m.:

  • Ray of Hope Christian Church, 2778 Snapfinger Road, Decatur

8:25 p.m.: Stacey Abrams is expected to speak about the Georgia Primary Election. You can watch it live below at 8:30 p.m.

7:30 p.m.: To no surprise, The Associated Press has called Joe Biden the winner of the Democratic presidential primary in Georgia.

7:25 p.m.: The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia (ACLU) have called today's election a "massive failure" and said many citizens were "deprived of their sacred right to vote."  

"Whether it is incompetence or intentional voter suppression- the result is the same-- Georgians denied their rights as citizens in this democracy,” said Andrea Young, Executive Director of the ACLU of Georgia.

7:10 p.m.: The NAACP filed an emergency injunctive relief to keep the polling locations in Gwinnett open until 10 p.m., however, a county representative tells 11Alive that only some polls were allowed to stay open until 7:30 p.m. 

7 p.m.: Most polls across the state have closed, but some remain open due to issues earlier in the day. 

6:45 p.m.: Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Monday that his office won't begin to release results until “the last precinct has closed.”  DeKalb County has a precinct that isn't closing until 10:10 p.m., so it could be a late night.

6:20 p.m.: A DeKalb Superior Court Judge has signed an order approving a petition by the Board of Registration and Elections to extend voting hours for several polling places. Voting has been extended at these locations: 

  • Narvie J. Harris Elementary, 3981 McGill Drive, Decatur — 7:45 p.m.
  • Clarkston Community Center, 3701 College Ave., Clarkston — 7:29 p.m.
  • Medlock Elementary School, 2418 Wood Trail Lane, Decatur — 7:15 p.m.
  • Stephenson High School, 701 Stephenson Road, Stone Mountain — 7:45 p.m.
  • Stephenson Middle School, 922 Stephenson Road, Stone Mountain — 7:30 p.m.
  • Kittredge Magnet School, 1663 East Nancy Creek Drive NE, Atlanta — 9:26 p.m.
  • Ray of Hope Christian Church, 2778 Snapfinger Road, Decatur — 10:10 p.m.
Credit: AP
Kelsey Luker reads as she waits in line to vote, Tuesday, June 9, 2020, in Atlanta. Luker said she had been in line for almost two hours. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

5:40 p.m.: Gwinnett County officials will keep 2 precincts open past 7 p.m. due to late starts. The Konaheda Elementary polling location will be open until 7:20 p.m. and St. Mary’s of Egypt Orthodox Church will remain open until 7:14 p.m. 

5:37 p.m.: A handful of precincts in Douglas County will stay open late. The polling location at Lithia Springs High School (Precinct No. 1275) will stay open until 8:45 p.m., the polling location at The Church at Chapel Hill (Precinct No. 736 South) will stay open until 7:20 p.m. and the polling location at Saint Julian’s Episcopal Church (Precinct No. 738) will stay open until 7:05 p.m. per order signed by Chief Judge David Emerson.

5:35 p.m.: All Fulton County polling locations will be open until 9 p.m., county officials confirmed with 11Alive. The Superior Court of Fulton County issued the order. Any voter in line by 9 p.m. will be allowed to vote.

Beginning at 7 p.m., ballots will no longer be scanned but will be placed in provisional ballot envelopes, they said.

5:25 p.m.: Carolyn Bourdeaux, a Democratic candidate in Georgia’s 7th Congressional district, called for Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s resignation this evening. 

"Mr. Raffensperger has failed at his most important responsibility: administering safe, fair, and efficient elections. For this reason, I am calling for him to resign immediately as Georgia’s Secretary of State," she said.

She is also calling on the governor to create a non-partisan commission "that makes recommendations to rebuild our voting infrastructure and restore Georgia voters’ trust in the democratic process."

5:25 p.m.: The Georgia Legislative Black Caucus issued a statement on voting challenges across the state. Rep. Karen Bennett (D-Stone Mountain) said today has been an "abysmal failure."

"It seems whatever planning the Georgia Secretary of State and county boards of election and registration undertook did not bring about the outcome we sought. In fact, the opposite has taken root," she said.

5:15 p.m.: Joe Biden's campaign released a statement following the voting issues in Georgia. Rachana Desai Martin, Biden for President National Director for Voter Protection and Senior Counsel said what happened today is "completely unacceptable."  

The full statement reads:
"Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy. What we see in Georgia today, from significant issues with voting machines to breakdowns in the delivery of ballots to voters who requested to vote absentee, are a threat to those values, and are completely unacceptable. We only have a few months left until voters around the nation head to the polls again, and efforts should begin immediately to ensure that every Georgian -- and every American -- is able to safely exercise their right to vote. Our campaign will remain fully engaged in defending that right."

5:05 p.m.: Sarah Riggs Amico, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, responds to voting issues and demands poll hours be extended.

"(Sec. of State Bradd Raffensperger) had months to prepare for an election in the midst of a pandemic. And yet, he has failed — spectacularly — to provide counties with the training and resources they need to conduct today’s election safely and fairly," she said.

"I urge all counties that have experienced delays and malfunctions today to follow the lead of Chatham County and others, and extend voting hours until every eligible voter can cast their ballot."

5 p.m.: 11Alive's Andy Pierrotti will soon speak with attorney Gerald Griggs about potential litigation concerning voter suppression claims.

4:42 p.m.: Cobb County will be keeping open 19 precincts until 8 p.m. after voting issues earlier today. They are:

  • Addison 01
  • Austell 1A
  • Bells Ferry 04
  • Clarkdale 01
  • Cooper 01
  • Eastside 02
  • Elizabeth 01
  • Elizabeth 03
  • Mableton 01
  • Oregon 04
  • Oregon 05
  • Palmer 01
  • Powder Springs 1A
  • Powder Springs 2A
  • Powder Springs 3A
  • Riverside 01
  • Sewell Mill 03
  • Sope Creek 02
  • Sweetwater 02

4:40 p.m.: In the latest back-and-forth between DeKalb County and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond says "if there was a failure of leadership, it starts where the buck should stop, at the top." 

His full statement:

"The Election Day issues relating to the use of state-purchased voting machines represent an attack on the democratic process. The Secretary of State’s office has alleged these issues resulted from a failure of county leadership. If there was a failure of leadership, it starts where the buck should stop, at the top. The eradication of any ‘learning curve’ rests squarely at the feet of the Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his office.

“Therefore, I am calling on Governor Brian Kemp, Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan, and Speaker David Ralston to immediately launch a comprehensive, top-to-bottom investigation into voting issues, including the Secretary of State’s preparation for and administration of this election. It is the Secretary of State’s responsibility to train, prepare, and equip election staff throughout the state to ensure fair and equal access to the ballot box. Those Georgians who have been disenfranchised by the statewide chaos that has effected the voting system today in numerous DeKalb precincts and throughout the state of Georgia deserve answers.”

4:30 p.m.: Stacey Abrams has weighed in, saying on Twitter that Secretary Raffensperger "owns this disaster" and "must stop finger-pointing and fix it."

4:20 p.m.: Attorney Gerald Griggs will be speaking at 5 p.m. about potential litigation into today's voting issues.

4:15 p.m.: Bernice King tweeted a simple statement on the voting issues today, noting: "If voting didn’t matter, voter suppression wouldn’t persist."

3:50 p.m.: 11Alive's Doug Richards reports Fulton County is now beginning to count absentee ballots at the Georgia World Congress Center. It is believed to be the first time they've begun counting absentee votes before the close of polls, due to the high amount of absentee ballots submitted in these primary elections.

3:45 p.m.: The Stacey Abrams-founded voting rights group Fair Fight Action weighs in:

3:40 p.m.: A lawyers group is petitioning four metro Atlanta counties to keep their polling locations open late tonight after the widespread issues of today, the AP reports.

Kristen Clarke, the president of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law called Georgia's primary voting a "catastrophe."

“If we view the primary election as a dry run for November, Georgia gets an F,” she told the AP.

The AP reports the group said it filed notices with Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties to extend voting hours.

3:30 p.m.: Emory political scientist Andra Gillespie offered this insight into the finger-pointing between some counties and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's office over today's issues:

"I see it as more of a political question. Our election system is set up to be administered at the local level, so there are 159 election systems that report to the SOS. As such, the counties can't pass the buck completely to Raffensperger. And given Fulton County's history of election day issues, they will be perceived as having to bear responsibility for a lot of the problems.

"This doesn't necessarily give Secy. Raffensperger a free pass. Public opinion may not look favorably on the appearance of scapegoating, especially if there were verified lapses in training offered by the SOS office that can't be blamed on local authorities."

3:25 p.m.: Here's what Democratic Senate candidate Rev. Raphael Warnock had to say on today's voting issues. (note: Warnock is not on the ballot today, because he is not running in the primary to face Sen. David Perdue, he is running in the special election for Sen. Kelly Loeffler's seat in November.)

3:10 p.m.: "Let's all work, hope and pray that this not be a preview of November," Mayor Bottoms just tweeted, quoting The Ron Clark Academy founder Ron Clark, who said he also experienced difficulty voting this morning.

3:05 p.m.: 11Alive's Christie Diez spoke to a number of voters about the issues they experienced this morning. Here's what a few had to say:

  • Darren Baylor, voted at Cascade Elementary in the Adams Park neighborhood in southwest Atlanta: "There were only three machines, maybe four that they had at the polling place and one of them was down and the other three were malfunctioning."
  • Kristie Perkins, voted at Pittman Park in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of southwest Atlanta: we were told there were three machines but only two were working. They said there was an issue with the paper ... and I spoke with one of the machine technicians to find out exactly what was going on, and he indicated that there was an issue with the paper or the reading of the paper and so that was a delay."
  • Allyson Bolton, voted at Lithia Springs High School in Douglas County: "I got there about 7:10 a.m. and there was a line. I sat in line for two-and-a-half hours ready to vote. They came out and said all the machines were down. There were 10 machines and about an hour and a half in, they got five to work."
  • Rabiyah Karim-Kincey, voted in Riverdale: "As I was getting in line I noticed people were already looking a little aggravated, so one of the poll workers was announcing to us that the system was down, that all of the machines were down. She continued to say that in addition to the machines, that the green card machine and the ballot box itself, was down as well. They had already given out some paper ballots to people in line as I was getting in line, but about five people before me they ran out of paper ballots."

2:55 p.m.: LaTosha Brown and Cliff Albright, the co-founders of the Black Voters Matter Fund, issued a statement on the issues seen during Georgia's primary voting today. Here is part of that statement:

“What we’re seeing across the state of Georgia right now is the complete and total failure of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and other state representatives to protect our elections. Officials had already let down Georgia voters who requested absentee ballots and never received them. As the state continues to reel from the deadly coronavirus, withholding mail-in ballots is not only a flagrant violation of voters’ rights; it’s a public health disaster. Now, as voters, poll workers, and volunteers statewide report broken voting machines and long, excessive wait times, it’s clear that our local state election system is broken.

2:35 p.m.: After the chaos of this morning in some areas, are you still seeing issues out there during afternoon voting? If so please email us at news@11alive.com

2:30 p.m.: 11Alive's Faith Abubéy spoke to State Rep. Josh McLaurin, a Democrat who represents parts of Sandy Springs, Roswell and John's Creek in the Georgia House: 

2:25 p.m.: 11Alive's Cheryl Preheim reached the governor's office, and they say they will not be issuing a comment on today's voting issues.

2:20 p.m.: "Kemp" is now trending on Twitter as Georgia's issues today make larger national news.

2:15 p.m.: To recap, here's some photos today of the lines around the area, with viewers sending us photos from places like East Point's St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church and the Sandtown Recreation Center in southwest Atlanta. 

1:50 p.m.: 11Alive's Faith Abubéy spoke to the Fulton County Board of Elections director, Richard Barron, and came away with what they're saying were the issues - many of them pandemic-related - they ran into in the lead-up to today.

"Two people who process absentee ballots/voter registration in Fulton County tested positive for COVID-19. One died just before Easter. The other was out for a month to recover," Faith reports. "The day the employee died fro COVID-19, the Fulton elections office says it received 80,000 pieces of absentee ballot mail that day. For 6-9 days, they weren’t processing applications because of COVID-19 decontamination and being out of the office."

Click through below to read her whole thread for more on Fulton County's situation, which is drawing the ire of - and investigation from - the secretary of state.

1:45 p.m.: Secretary Raffensperger says his office will investigate Fulton and DeKalb counties specifically regarding today's voting issues:

"The voting situation today in certain precincts in Fulton and DeKalb counties is unacceptable. My office has opened an investigation to determine what these counties need to do to resolve these issues before November’s election. Obviously, the first time a new voting system is used there is going to be a learning curve, and voting in a pandemic only increased these difficulties. But every other county faced these same issues and were significantly better prepared to respond so that voters had every opportunity to vote."

1:40 p.m.: In an interview in Cobb County, Secretary of State Raffensperger again defended the new voting system, saying things were "working really well in just about every county."

"But there are a few problem children, and obviously the biggest one is Fulton County," he said.

"If you're having systemic failures, it's not the machine," he added. "These machines have been used - Chicago uses these machines, they have 10 million voters there. These machines have been used in other states, Virginia is the second largest. It's not the machines - it gets back to training and communicating.

"We've got the reports that people are inserting cards upside down, that gets back to the employees didn’t understand the system. So what were they doing for all these months? All of a sudden they wake up and they say, 'let's have an election on Tuesday?'"

1:25 p.m.: Gwinnett County has issued this statement on today's issues:

"Some Gwinnett County polling locations opened today without all of the polling equipment. However, every voter who showed up to vote at those polling places were able to cast an emergency ballot. Gwinnett County Voter Registrations and Elections assures those voters that their ballots will be counted just like any other ballot that is cast today or was cast by mail or in Advance in person voting.

"In addition, elections staff has delivered all of the equipment to those polling locations."

1:20 p.m.: Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education Chairman Jason Esteves made a call for paper ballots after his own frustrating experience this morning.

1:15 p.m.: Gerald Griggs, a prominent Atlanta attorney, tweeted a "lawsuit is being prepared as we speak" over today's voting issues.

1:00 p.m.: The City of Atlanta is now experiencing long lines or delays to call their election hotline:

12:35 p.m.: Georgia House Speaker David Ralston is calling for an investigation into irregularities in todays primary voting. A statement said he had directed House Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Shaw Blackmon to lead the investigation.

Speaker Ralston issued this statement:

“The sanctity of our elections – being free and fair – is the very foundation of our system of government. Our elections must be efficient and voters must be confident that their votes will be properly counted.

“We are hearing anecdotes from around the state – particularly in Fulton County – this morning of unacceptable deficiencies: poll workers not being properly trained, voting equipment not working and absentee ballots not being received among other issues. Our poll workers give of their time to serve Georgians, and they do not deserve to be blamed for systemic problems beyond their control.

“The legislative branch of government has an obligation to go beyond the mutual finger-pointing and get to the truth and the real reasons underlying these frustrations and concerns.

“I have directed Chairman Blackmon and our House Governmental Affairs Committee to investigate today’s primary elections process and recommend changes – legislative or administrative – to correct these issues and prevent future problems.”

12:30 p.m.: Here's a video of a long voting line in Cobb County, captured by 11Alive's Tanner Flowers a short while ago.

11:50 a.m.: A viewer sent 11Alive's Dorjan Williams this video from Hapeville of machines being removed from a polling site:

11:30 a.m.: It's not all bad today, 11Alive's Digital Director Kristen Reed witnessed people bringing breakfast to voters who were stuck in long lines in southeast Atlanta:

11:20 a.m.: The DeKalb County elections office issued a statement that appears to contradict what the secretary of state's office is saying, citing "technical issues with the new state-issued voting machines."

"DeKalb County Voter Registration and Elections Office is experiencing technical issues with the new state-issued voting machines. These issues are being seen statewide and are not isolated to DeKalb County," the statement said. "Any voter who has been turned away without casting a ballot should go to any precinct in DeKalb County and ask for a provisional paper ballot. Voters experiencing issues should call the DeKalb County Board of Voter Registration and Elections at 404-298-4020."

11:10 a.m.: Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's office has issued a statement saying there isn't any technical issue with new voting machines, but that "we have reports of poll workers not understanding setup or how to operate voting equipment."

"While these are unfortunate, they are not issues of the equipment but a function of counties engaging in poor planning, limited training, and failures of leadership. Well over 2,000 precincts are functioning normally throughout the state of Georgia.“

10:45 a.m.: It took two hours, but 11Alive's Andy Pierrotti was finally able to cast his vote:

10:40 a.m.: 11Alive photojournalist Aden Brown spoke to voters in line at Louise Watley Library in southeast Atlanta.

"I feel like it is very important for us to be able to have our voices heard in any way, shape or form, or possibility, and with these lines going on it makes you deterred from wanting to stay in line," said one voter, Samone Hannah. "I've been in line since 6 this morning it's almost 9 a.m., and I have not moved at all.

"I wasn't expecting to be out here this long, especially when I got here before the polls opened. And because so many people are trying to get there before the polls open to try to make their voices heard, and then they hold the line, the machines don't work - and we're just stuck here."

10:10 a.m.: In one really troublesome example, we've heard from multiple people that they've been waiting for hours at Bear Creek Middle School in Fairburn. We've heard from voters who say they've been in line since 6:30 a.m. and the polling location still hasn't even opened.

9:30 a.m.: A Cobb County spokesman sends us this statement on issues there: 

"We have received reports of scattered issues in Mableton, Austell, and Vinings early in the day. But Elections is telling me all issues resolved and all precincts are up and running."

9:10 a.m.: In one report representative of the kinds of things we've been hearing this morning, a voter in Lilburn told us that her precinct never even received the new voting machines at all.  

She said everyone is having to complete a provisional ballot, and that some people just gave up and left.

The poll workers apologized, she said, but there was nothing they could do.

8:55 a.m.: We're hearing of other kinds of issues beyond just the machines. One voter reported to us about deep confusion with poll workers over the issue people who requested, but did not receive, an absentee ballot. She said she had to sign an affidavit stating she'd made the request.

"Nowhere at the polling place is it communicated to voters that if they requested an absentee ballot but did not receive it, they have to explicitly say so when checking in," Tara Winston wrote to tell us. "I'm concerned that the votes of those who do not take this step may not be counted."

She added that when she brought this to the attention of a poll worker, she had to do "real-time training" on the spot in how to handle the issue.

8:40 a.m.: 11Alive's Andy Pierrotti says the Stacey Abrams-led voting rights group Fair Fight Action is handing out its number at his polling location for people to report any issues:

8:35 a.m.: In one particularly frustrating example, we're hearing from a voter at a precinct in Riverdale that both the machines are not functioning and paper ballots ran out - also, there are no pens.

8:30 a.m.: Messages continue to flood in regarding voting failures, from John's Creek to Clayton County to Sandy Springs to Austell. We've reached out to several county election offices to see what's being done.

We've heard in at least one instance of a polling site turning to paper ballots, which a viewer told us had gotten the line moving after some time at Lithia Springs High School, although she adds she hasn't seen anyone actually come out having cast a vote.

8:00 a.m.: We are getting reports of widespread issues at polls, with viewers sending us messages about voting failures from across the metro - southwest Atlanta, north Atlanta, Lithia Springs, Marietta, Canton.

We're working to confirm these issues, which in most cases viewers have said they're being told are with the voting machines.

If you're seeing issues, email us at news@11alive.com.

Additionally, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has been tweeting out reports of voting failures at Sandtown Recreation Center, the Ralph Bunche precinct and elsewhere.

"This seems to be happening throughout Atlanta and perhaps throughout the county. People have been in line since before 7:00 am this morning," the mayor wrote. "If you are in line, PLEASE do not allow your vote to be suppressed. PLEASE stay in line. They should offer you a provisional ballot if the machines are not working."

MORE ON ELECTION DAY

Georgia's Primary Election Guide for today

Georgia election results

Election results for Georgia's U.S. Senate seat

Atlanta mayor hopes momentum of protests will carry over to voter turnout

How to protect yourself while voting during the pandemic

Votes will count Tuesday in US Senate primary

What if you never got your absentee ballot? You've got options