Voters wait in line at State Farm Arena in Atlanta on October 12, 2020. JOHN SPINK / JOHN.SPINK@AJC.COM
Photo credit: John Spink
Photo credit: John Spink
Other early voting venues include a former Atlanta Hawks star̵
7;s training facility, government offices, and even a bus with voting touchscreens. At least 130 voters were waiting to cast their votes at the Atlanta High Museum of Art when the polls opened.
The vast majority of voters, with a few exceptions, wore masks.
All registered voters are eligible to vote early so they can pick a time that suits their schedule and avoid queuing on November 3rd. Voters must cast their ballots in the county they are registered in, but can choose any location within the constituency of their county.
Early lines were created through unprecedented interest and social distancing requirements, but election officials said their goal was to keep lines moving and avoid problems like those seen in Georgia’s elementary school. In the June 9 elections, high voter turnout, lack of electoral workers and difficulties with electoral equipment resulted in waiting times of more than three hours in some areas.
ExploreWhy early voting in Georgia is more important than ever
Ryan Drummond, 42, is a new citizen and a first-time voter. By 8:30 a.m., he had been waiting about an hour before the early voting location in the Mountain Park Activity Building in Gwinnett County. He still had a long way to go.
Drummond said he had decided to vote early because he did not want to wait for election day and the confusion about postal voting made him uneasy.
“As a first-time voter, I didn’t want to make a mistake to get rejected,” he said.
Gwinnett officials said high voter interest resulted in queues. Some people waited as early as 4 a.m., three hours before the elections began. No technical issues were reported at Gwinnett.
Roy Rustin, 74, arrived at the Tucker Library in DeKalb County at 5 a.m. wearing his red headscarf. He has a weakened immune system and thought he’d be getting on and off quickly when the polls opened. He said he saw it as his compulsory voting, but didn’t trust the postal voting system.
“I thought if I came first it would be the least dangerous path,” Rustin said, adding that he saw voting as part of his duty as a citizen.
When he voted shortly after 7:00 a.m., the library line snaked through the parking lot onto the sidewalk.
Early personal voters will join the 439,000 Georgia voters who have already returned their postal votes. By the final election day, more than two-thirds of the state’s planned 5 million voter turnout will have voted.
Early voters will use Georgia’s new electoral system, which combines well-known touchscreens with printed voting slips. Voters can check their selection on the paper printout before placing it in an optical scanner.
A judge’s decision late Sunday allowed Georgia to continue using the electoral system and rejected the efforts of election security advocates to switch to hand-filled ballot papers.
Due to the security precautions related to coronavirus, the experience with early voting will also differ from previous years.
Voters are 6 feet apart and are separated from poll workers by plexiglass shields when they check in. Optional equipment is often wiped down and refurbished. Voters are given pens when they don’t want to use their fingers on touch screens.
ExploreGeorgia Elections Guide 2020
There are over 60 early voting locations in Metro Atlanta’s four core boroughs, with more than 30 in Fulton County alone.
Voters can find websites for early voting and state election hours or the state’s My Voter Page at www.mvp.sos.ga.gov.
Early voting runs from October 12th to October 30th, including a Saturday on October 24th.
Please return to AJC.com on Monday for updates from the locations for early voting.
– The authors Shaddi Abusaid and Brad Schrade contributed to this article.