Georgia Primary: Voting delays, long lines spark 'voter suppression' accusations by Democrats; probe launched

Issues with new voting machines, shortage of ballots cause outrage in Georgia that could turn into a key swing state in the November 3 election

                            Georgia Primary: Voting delays, long lines spark 'voter suppression' accusations by Democrats; probe launched
People wait in line to vote in Georgia's primary election on June 9, 2020 in Atlanta (Getty Images)

Even though former vice president Joe Biden has crossed the threshold of required delegates to officially clinch the presidential nominee’s tag for the November election, yet the party’s primaries have not lost their significance. Particularly, the primary in Georgia which took place on Tuesday, June 9, made the headlines for controversial reasons. Long waits, problems with new voting devices and lack of available ballots made things inconvenient for the voters in majority-minority counties in the Peach State and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger launched an investigation into the conditions after calling them “unacceptable”. 

The Democratic Party and election observers were not happy with the primary in Georgia either. The state has had previous allegations of similar problems against it along with charges of racial bias and with less than five months to go for the big election, Georgia hasn’t done well to recover its reputation. President Donald Trump won in Georgia by pocketing more than 50 percent of the votes and all 16 electoral votes. 

Joe Biden (Getty Images)

“This seems to be happening throughout Atlanta and perhaps throughout the county. People have been in line since before 7:00 am this morning,” Atlanta’s Democratic Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms tweeted shortly after polls were supposed to open.

Raffensperger, a Republican, said in a statement: “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.”

2018 mid-term polls also had issues

Fulton County witnessed voting problems during the 2018 midterm election as well that led to allegations of voter suppression by Democrats. The then secretary of state, Brain Kemp, also a Republican, won the governor’s election that year defeating Stacey Abrams by a thin margin. Abrams called the election “rotten and rigged” and tweeted on Tuesday, June 9, saying “Georgians deserve better”. 

“From Jasper to Fulton to Coffee & Chatham, long lines, inoperable machines & under-resourced communities are being hurt,” she wrote and then took a dig at Raffensperger saying the latter “owns this disaster”. “He must stop finger-pointing and fix it,” she added. DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond and Democratic Party of Georgia spokeswoman Maggie Chambers also held Raffensperger responsible.

The Democrats have aimed Georgia, which has added 700,000 registered voters to the rolls since 2018, as a possible swing state in the presidential polls. Rachana Desai Martin, the national director of voter protection for Biden also said Tuesday’s (June 9) developments were “unacceptable” and added many voters reportedly asked for absentee ballots but never received them. Biden won the primary in Georgia to take his delegate count past 2,000. The last time a Democrat won Georgia in a presidential election was in 1992 when southerner Bill Clinton clinched victory. 

Georgia's new voting systems tested on June 9

The June 9 polls was a major test for Georgia’s new voting systems that were brought by the state following a federal verdict last that requiring it to get rid of paperless voting machines by 2020. Several issues emerged with the new voting machines. 

California Senator and former presidential candidate Kamala Harris tweeted her criticism against the malfunctioning and said “Voter Suppression” was happening in the state. “Voting machines down. Limited provisional ballots. Hours-long lines,” Harris tweeted. “#VoterSuppression is happening right now across Georgia, particularly in Black communities. We can't let this happen in November,” she said. Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden also called it “voter suppression” in a tweet

The new voting machines were provided as part of a multimillion-dollar contract with Dominion Voting Systems and according to a report in The Hill, Kay Stimson, vice president of government affairs at Dominion, said the company had a “command center” in Georgia and had “teams deployed around the state” to respond to issues with the equipment.