Polk County was not immune from lines forming at the polls during the first two days of early voting, but election officials said training and preparation have helped cut down on any long waits.
Brande Coggins, Polk County Elections Coordinator, said they have two methods by which to check in voters when they arrive at a polling place and have two full check-in stations with their own equipment at each location.
The first method is called EasyVote and provides a voter check-in form that comes pre-printed with the voter’s information so all they have to do is make sure the information is correct and sign it.
Coggins said if they encounter any interruptions with that application, poll workers are trained to go through the Georgia Secretary of State’s ElectioNet, or E-Net, system, which confirms a person is registered to vote but requires them to complete a form with their personal information.
Both methods are approved and monitored by the Secretary of State’s office, with EasyVote allowing a faster check-in process.
“We did have a moment this morning when both systems were down, but they were back up pretty quickly,” Coggins said Tuesday. “We’ve been pretty lucky.”
A total of 1,029 people came out in person to vote Monday, with 566 coming through the Polk County Annex Building in Cedartown and 463 at the Nathan Dean Center in Rockmart. Around 300 had already voted by lunch Tuesday.
Both polling places have two computers for voter check-in, plus two poll pads that write the electronic voting cards voters take and insert into the voting machines.
“So we don’t have a bunch of different stops for the voter. They check in at one place and then go to vote,” Coggins said.
The Rockmart location has 20 voting machines, while there are 12 in the elections office area of the Polk County Annex Building due to space.
“It was a big concern for us going into this to still make sure we promoted physical distancing,” Coggins said. “And there have been times when they have been completely full. It’s more of an ebb and flow at Rockmart with the number of machines they have there.”
Still, except for first thing in the morning, wait times have averaged 5-10 minutes, with occasional moments where voters are spending 10-15 minutes at the most from start to finish.
Coggins, who heads up election training for Polk County, said they took an aggressive approach with training poll workers and poll managers, starting with getting adjusted to the new voting machines and process.
“Since February and March, our managers have had multiple training sessions, and each new poll worker receives the same kind of training managers do, with the exception of poll location setup and technical training,” Coggins said.
With most of Polk County’s poll workers returning for this election, officials were able to provide specific training on each precinct to go over equipment setup and troubleshooting, and line management.
While new poll workers have had two hours of training on the basics of checking voters in and supporting poll managers, others have received more training to dial in on certain issues.
“Training has been a very long process. We had to adapt and change some things as we went,” Coggins said.
An addition to each Polk County precinct this election is an absentee ballot clerk who will assist voters who are on file as having requested an absentee ballot but it has not been received by the elections office.
More than 1,000 Polk County voters showed out early for the Nov. 3 general election.
Lines formed outside of both polling locations Monday in Polk County, but election officials said wait times were minimum for those who cast ballots on the first day of early voting.
A total of 1,029 people came out in person to vote Monday, with 566 coming through the Polk County Annex Building in Cedartown and 463 at the Nathan Dean Center in Rockmart.
Polk County Elections Coordinator Brande Coggins said an issue with one of the printers that print out a ballot for it to be scanned caused some delay.
She added wait times were around five minutes for most and topped out at around 10-15 minutes during the busiest parts of the day, mostly in the morning.
County officials have encouraged people to vote early or by absentee ballot this year to cut down on the projected record turnout and to help with physical distancing related to the spread of COVID-19.
The Polk County Elections Office had received 1,294 absentee ballots as of Tuesday morning and had processed more than 5,000 requests.
Early voting continues through Oct. 30, with the two polling sites open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, except for Oct. 27 and 29, when they are scheduled to be open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Early voting will also be available in Polk County on Saturday, Oct. 24, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.