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GA Primary: Some Cobb County Precincts Stay Open Until 8 p.m.

GEORGIA — With record turnouts expected for Georgia’s primary, new voting equipment in use, and a system hobbled by the pandemic, polling places already are having problems.

Those problems — and calls to action by other Republican politicians — led Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to announce at midday an investigation into voting issues in both Fulton and DeKalb counties. DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond countered by demanding an investigation of the Secretary of State’s office. Meanwhile, the Metro Atlanta Chamber urged both sides to figure it out before November’s general election.

By Tuesday afternoon, a spokesman for Cobb County said 19 of its precincts will stay open until 8 p.m. because they didn’t open at 7 p.m.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports bottlenecks and malfunctions throughout the metro, including:

A wait of more than two hours at one Johns Creek precinct. Fulton County Commissioner Liz Hausmann told the Journal-Constitution that she’d never seen lines like this, even for a presidential election. She also reported technical issues.Not enough provisional paper ballots to use when machines malfunction. At Cross Keys High School in Brookhaven, the precinct manager was given fewer than two dozen paper ballots to hand out, leading one voter to complain to the Journal-Constitution of “blatant voter suppression.” Responded the precinct manager: “The volunteers are a little confused.”Not enough voting machines in Gwinnett County, according to Ga. Rep. Jasmine Clark. “Voters are livid or leaving,” Clark told the Journal-Constitution.All voting machines were down early at Stephenson High School in Stone Mountain. “I plan on staying,” one voter said to the Journal-Constitution. “My vote needs to be counted.”

Even Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms reported problems, tweeting about long waits and asking how widespread the problems were.

Not all precincts were problems. A polling place at Suder Elementary School in Jonesboro was reported to be operating smoothly. Another polling place at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Lawrenceville was observed by Patch to be quickly moving voters in and out.

Raffensperger issued a statement early Tuesday morning acknowledging that some equipment may have been delivered late or to the wrong location, but that none of it was actually malfunctioning. Instead, he blamed county election offices for the problems.

“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,” read the statement. “Well over 2,000 precincts are functioning normally throughout the state of Georgia.”

Long lines and new voting machines weren’t the only problem. In one Lawrenceville precinct, a driver believed to be experiencing a medical emergency ran into a line of waiting voters. One woman was slightly injured and is expected to recover.

In the mean time, there’s an election going on.

Former Vice President Joe Biden gained enough delegates through primaries on June 2 to become the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has no serious challengers and is the presumptive Republican nominee.

Georgia’s only possible role in selecting a presidential nominee would be to host the GOP convention. After Trump pushed the convention out of Charlotte because its leaders couldn’t guarantee a setting free of pandemic restriction, Georgia leaders volunteered to replace it. Soon after Trump threatened to move the convention, Gov. Brian Kemp said Atlanta would be glad to host it. And on Monday, GOP representatives scoped out Savannah as a possible site for the convention, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Even if Georgia can’t help decide who the next president is, it may have a hand in providing the next vice president. Multiple news outlets reported on June 4 that Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms was being vetted as a possible running mate for Biden.

With both party’s presidential candidates a foregone conclusion, today’s Georgia primary is a battle for control of Congress.

“I don’t want to make any predictions,” Ryan Anderson of GeorgiaVotes.com said to the Associated Press. “But we definitely will be watching to see how all of this will translate.”

Here are the matchups:

U.S. Senate

Seven Democratic challengers are competing to run against U.S. Sen. David Perdue in Tuesday’s Georgia primary, but only three are expected to have a strong showing. Jon Ossoff, who narrowly lost his 2017 bid to become representative for Georgia’s 6th District, is backed by civil rights icon John Lewis, and most expect him to get the most votes — but not necessarily a majority.

If Ossoff does face a runoff, it probably will be against Teresa Tomlinson, former mayor of Columbus, who is backed by another civil-rights icon, Andrew Young. Also in the mix is Sarah Riggs Amico, who lost in the 2018 general election for lieutenant governor.

Republican incumbent Perdue, first elected in 2014, is running unchallenged for the GOP nomination.

Georgia’s other Senate seat won’t be in play until November, but the advertising blitz for it is already in progress. U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, a staunch ally of President Donald Trump, is challenging Sen. Kelly Loeffler. Gov. Brian Kemp defied Trump when he appointed Loeffler to replace Johnny Isakson, who retired in 2019 for health reasons.

U.S. House

Collins’ pursuit of a Senate seat left his 9th District seat open — and attracted nine Republicans to replace him. Two of them, Paul Broun Jr. and Andrew Clyde, are running on aggressive pro-gun platforms. Whoever wins the Republican nomination is likely to win the general election.

The 14th District in northwest Georgia is seeing a similar glut of candidates, thanks to the retirement of incumbent Republican Rep. Tom Graves. Only one Democrat is seeking the nomination, but nine Republicans are pursuing it — and the district almost always goes to the GOP candidate. One Republican, Marjorie Greene, even moved to the district just to compete.

In other Atlanta-area races:

Two Democrats are challenging incumbent Rep. Hank Johnson for the 4th District nomination. Johnson has held his seat since 2007 in District 4, which is largely in DeKalb County.In Georgia’s 5th District, which encompasses most of Atlanta, Barrington Martin II is challenging longtime incumbent John Lewis for the Democratic nomination.Former Secretary of State and 6th District representative Karen Handel will fight four other Republicans for the opportunity to run against incumbent Democrat Lucy McBath, who took the seat away from her in 2018. McBath is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination. The 6th District includes Georgia’s northern suburbs, including much of north Fulton County.Six Democrats and seven Republicans are vying for the 7th District Congressional seat, vacated by Republican Rob Woodall. Among the Democrats, Carolyn Bordeaux has been endorsed by John Lewis and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The best-known candidate on the Republican side is Renee Unterman, a former mayor of Loganville who represents District 45 in the Georgia State Senate. The 7th District covers parts of Gwinnett and Forsyth counties.In the 13th District, three Democrats are challenging incumbent David Scott for the party’s nomination to serve the area west of Atlanta. Scott has held the position since 2003.How To Vote

Those voting in person Tuesday must show valid photo ID. That could be a Georgia driver’s license — even if expired — or any of several other types of valid government identification. You can find a list of acceptable ID here.

To cast a ballot, you also must be registered to vote. May 11 was the deadline to register. To check to see if you’re registered, visit the Georgia Secretary of State’s My Voter Page.

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