UPDATE: DeKalb County officials have received permission to extend voting hours at Livsey Elementary and in Embry Hills at Holy Cross Catholic Church until 7:30 p.m. tonight. The half-hour extension came after both locations experienced problems this morning with checking voters in. See more details below.
UPDATE 2: Fulton County officials are aware of one Sandy Springs voter who was mistakenly turned away this morning by a poll worker, and were working Tuesday afternoon to contact the voter and get him back in.
Fulton County Elections Director Richard Barron said he was not clear why the poll worker told the man he was not registered, since his name is on the rolls -- something the county confirmed after receiving a complaint.
But Barron separately said the county has not been able to confirm other social media reports about voters in Sandy Springs being turned away because they had not voted in the race’s original April 18 special election. The county looked into the posts, Barron said, but could not verify them.
Any registered voter in the 6th District may vote in the runoff, regardless of whether they cast a ballot in April.
“Most of our complaints have been from people who live outside the district complaining they can’t vote,” he said.
MIDDAY POST: Voters at two polling locations in DeKalb County had slow check-ins this morning for the 6th Congressional District runoff, after officials discovered they had accidentally switched electronic poll books.
That problem could cause local officials to seek an extension of voting hours at those two sites. Otherwise, it so far appears to be the only notable issue as a steady stream of voting continues in the nationally watched race between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff.
Polls opened at 7 a.m. in parts of Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton counties for the contest, which is seen as an early referendum on President Donald Trump’s administration. Scores of outside groups from both sides have invested in the outcome, using tens of millions of dollars as well as a small army of volunteers to sway voters.
That spotlight has been intensified by the fact that the runoff is the only game in town right now. Early voting ahead of today saw more than 140,300 people cast ballots — a 27 percent turnout rate among the district’s 526,000 registered voters that local election officials called unprecedented for a special election. Both campaigns have also bombarded residents inside and outside the district with television and radio ads, with district residents reporting as many as a dozen calls a day and canvassers seemingly knocking nonstop on their doors at home.
Tony Promiscuo, a hair salon owner from East Cobb, on Tuesday voted for Handel because of what he said was her experience, conservative views on the federal budget and support for the military. Mostly, however, he said he’s looking forward to the election being over.
“I will be so happy not to have them knock on my door,” he said.
State officials also received a complaint this morning about campaign signs being too close to a polling location in Cobb at Chestnut Ridge Christian Church, although no formal investigation has been opened.
Georgette Dobkin, a precinct captain for the Ossoff campaign, said they had moved back from the polling station at the request of a poll worker. The state’s mandated buffer for campaigning is 150 feet from the building where the poll is located.
Dobkin said she is concerned about education, the environment and equal rights and protection for all. She got involved in the campaign after her college-aged son volunteered as well.
“I kinda thought to myself, ‘I should stop complaining about things from my sofa,’” she said.
In DeKalb, the early morning problem involved poll books that contain electronic lists of voters for each of those locations, one at Livsey Elementary School and the other in Embry Hills at Holy Cross Catholic Church. Poll workers switched to paper back-ups, and the correct electronic poll books were expected to be delivered later in the morning at each location.
The two polls still opened on-time at 7 a.m. this morning, but the mix-up slowed things down enough that it may cause officials to seek extended voting time at both locations.
The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office is aware of the problem, and sent a state investigator. DeKalb officials are expected to consult with their attorneys to decide whether to seek an hour extension from a judge.
Also in DeKalb, state officials said a poll worker at St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church in Dunwoody accidentally kicked the cord to that location’s electronic poll book, causing delays as officials had to plug the unit back in and reboot.
No formal investigation has been opened, but they are watching the location to make sure everything goes well.
Staff writer Meris Lutz contributed to this report.