Early Tuesday, it looked like Garden Lakes Baptist Church was the opening of a new fast food restaurant — lines of prospective voters went out of the church and wrapped around the block.

That may not have been an issue if the line had been moving, but it wasn’t.

Several people waiting in line outside the church said they’d been there for an hour and a half and still hadn’t gotten to vote. Leaving the church, Joe Money said he had waited an hour and 45 minutes to vote but it appeared that poll workers were doing the best they could.

Regionally, polling stations in nearby counties are reporting higher numbers with much lower wait times.

On both Monday and Tuesday Floyd County voters saw wait lines of over an hour in order to cast a ballot. On Monday, lines went outside the County Administration Building and down East Fourth Avenue as locals waited to vote.

The lines were shorter early Tuesday but wait times appeared to be just as long. Three people leaving the downtown location at the county administration building after voting at 10 a.m. said they’d arrived around 8:15 a.m.

Those leaving reported the chokepoint was the check in process.

To fix that issue, Elections Board member Melanie Conrad said they’re in the process of procuring additional computers to check in voters. While the voter verification system, called E-net, is slow they’re hoping additional check in stations may move lines along.

“The idea is that three or four slow laptops is better than one or two slow laptops,” she said. “At least that’s what we’re hoping for.”

County Manager Jamie McCord said he has authorized the purchase of any equipment elections officials request. Prior to early voting, he said, the county offered to purchase equipment to ensure the process moved smoothly.

While the state verification system has moved slowly, an additional step that has stalled lines has been voters who previously requested absentee ballots but then chose to vote in-person, Floyd County’s elections chief Robert Brady said.

Every voter who requests a mail-in ballot but shows up in person must formally cancel their ballot by signing an affidavit, which adds more time to the process.

At least one person, who asked not to be identified, said they had not requested an absentee ballot but the system showed they had.

“Expect lines to be long,” Brady said. He asked that people who have requested absentee ballots to fill them out and drop them off at drop box locations at the county administration building and the library.

Wait times low regionally

Approximately 525 Floyd County residents voted Monday and another 737 cast ballots Tuesday, Brady said, for a total of 1,262 so far. There were average wait times of two and a half to three hours both days.

Shea Hicks, chair of the Gordon County Board of Elections and Voter Registration Office, said 652 voters showed up to vote in person on Monday, with average wait times of around 30 minutes. Another 818 voted Tuesday, with a wait time of around 10 minutes.

Polk County Elections Coordinator Brande Coggins said they had 954 ballots cast on Tuesday with little to no wait times at the Cedartown or Rockmart locations. They had to switch to paper forms for a short time when they encountered issues with the state voter check-in system.

That is a total of 1,983 early votes cast in the past two days in Polk County, which has just over 25,000 registered voters.

Statewide there was a record turnout on Monday.

More than 128,000 people piled into polling places across the state Monday to kick off the three-week stretch of early voting, according to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office.

It was a record number of first-day ballot casters who turned out amid the lingering health terror of coronavirus and unprecedented nationwide doubt in the legitimacy of voting processes in the United States.

On top of that, droves of voters had requested absentee ballots prior to arriving in-person at polling places Monday, representing a fraction of the roughly 1.6 million Georgians seeking to vote by mail amid the pandemic.

Rome News-Tribune staff writer Olivia Morley, Polk County Standard Journal Editor Jeremy Stewart, Calhoun Times Editor Daniel Bell and Capitol Beat News Service contributed to this report.

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