Early voting draws waits, long lines

LAWRENCEVILLE - Carol Weikel drove by the elections office Thursday, saw the long line and decided to wait to vote.

But Friday, she slid in the back of the line - a football field's length away from the elections office - resigned to wait.

"Today, it's cooler and I've got my umbrella," she said, saying the line was even longer Friday, but could be worse on Election Day. "I've voted in every election, and it's important."

In Gwinnett, more than 27,000 people voted through Thursday. The number topped 500,000 in the state last week, and people still have two weeks to get to the polls before Nov. 4.

Elections Superintendent Lynn Ledford said wait times averaged 25 to 45 minutes Monday through Thursday but grew to more than an hour on Fridays.

"The turnout is fantastic. It is amazing that so many people are taking advantage of early voting," Ledford wrote in an e-mail. "I would expect that when the satellites are open the week prior to the election, with the extended hours, those locations will be constantly busy as well. Between in person and by mail, we could conceivably vote 80,000 prior to Election Day."

Bruce Hawkins of Stone Mountain arrived before voting began at 9 a.m., but still had to wait about an hour and a half to cast his ballot.

"I thought I was going to beat the rush," he said, waiting to thank the people in line who let him huddle under their umbrellas.

Hawkins said he missed his chance to vote in the primary earlier this year because of a computer glitch at his precinct. He had to get to work and couldn't wait until the machines were functioning again.

But he didn't want to miss his opportunity this time around.

"I haven't been 110 percent happy with what has been done with my tax dollars," he said, adding that he distrusted the government.

Donna Carver, who voted Friday alongside her husband Joe, said she thought trepidation over the economy was what was creating the long line at the polls.

"It's bringing them out, not only today but on Election Day," the Norcross woman said. "It makes you feel like at least you had a part if you come vote."

Next week, registered voters can continue to vote in person or request an absentee ballot for any reason from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at the elections office at 455 Grayson Highway in Lawrenceville.

From Oct. 27 through Oct. 31, officials will open four additional voting locations from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day: Centerville Community Center in Snellville, George Pierce Community Center in Suwanee, Dacula Activity Building in Dacula and Singleton Road Activity Building in Norcross.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 4 throughout Gwinnett.