Voters in a predominantly black, mostly Democratic-leaning county in Georgia were forced to wait four hours to vote on Tuesday morning, as the machines that were present there didn’t function when polls opened at 7:30 a.m.
In at least four known precincts in Gwinnett County, Georgia, malfunctioning voting equipment delayed citizens from being able to cast a ballot on an important election day. The wait at Annistown Elementary School, in the town of Snellville, was especially long.
The precinct workers were vague with what the issue was relating to the delay, eyewitnesses said. Jadana Donely, who endured the entire four hour wait, explained the situation.
“As soon as we walked through the door, it was just information that the machines were down. They didn’t go into specifics,” Donely said. “And then maybe about 20 minutes in, then they said ‘Oh, the machine is not working’ … Then another 20 minutes after that, it was, ‘The cards are not working.’ And then it was, ‘OK, they have machines on the way.’ And then the machine that got here wasn’t working.”
Many people ended up leaving the line because they had to get to work or had other obligations to tend to. Donely’s husband left to go to work, and intends to vote at the end of his shift. Officials in the area are worried that others won’t return, however.
Terri Durham, who said she was at the elementary school ward, shared with Twitter users her account of the day.
There were 24 machines present. This was also the case at at least 2 other precincts close by (machines not working)…
— Terri Durham (@Teedurful) November 6, 2018
According to reporting from NBC News, it turned out the issue was a power failure. Machines had been running on battery power, and did not have power cords to supply them backup power.
NBC News has confirmed that the issue at Anderson Livsey Elementary in Snellville, GA was indeed a lack of power cords. Gwinnett County Director of Communications Joe Sorenson tells @NBCNews “the machine was not supplied power and was running on battery & the battery ran out” 🤔 https://t.co/YFa45nihXs
— Ayman Mohyeldin (@AymanM) November 6, 2018
Unknown, however, is why new voter cards would be needed to fix the problem, or why no one thought to bring power cords with the new machines when they were brought in to fix the issue.
Many expressed skepticism about the issues, including resident Jaime Winfree. “This is not an accident. I know of at least four majority-black polling places in Snellville that had machines that didn’t work for hours, and people left,” she said.
Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), the Congressman who represents the areas affected, said the issues were the makings of current Secretary of State (and Republican candidate for governor) Brian Kemp.
“This was definitely foreseeable,” Johnson noted. “It’s part of the last gasp attempts by Republicans to maintain their positions of privilege.”
Kemp has been criticized throughout the campaign for disenfranchising thousands of voters across Georgia as he attempts to win the governor’s race against his Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams. More than 300,000 voters were removed from voter rolls under dubious reasons, per previous reporting from Hill Reporter.