Gwinnett County Superior Court Chief Judge Melodie Snell Conner has ordered three voting precincts in Gwinnett to stay open later tonight because of a machine malfunction that affected all three this morning.
The order stipulates that the precinct at Annistown Elementary School will stay open until 9:25 p.m., while the precinct at Harbins Elementary School in Dacula will stay open until 7:14 p.m. and the precinct at Anderson-Livsey Elementary School will stay open until 7:30 p.m.
Gwinnett County spokesman Joe Sorenson said five precincts in the county experienced issues with the Express Poll machines, which create ballots on voting cards that are handed out to voters when they check in to vote.
Annistown was the only one of the five precincts that did not open on time because of the issue. The others initially issued paper ballots, which poll officials at the Annistown Elementary precinct began doing as well at 7:25 a.m., Sorenson said.
“You’ve got equipment that was tested and ready to go and set up, and when the poll managers got there … they discovered the problem and three of them immediately shifted to paper ballots,” Sorenson said. “(In the case of the) Annistown one, I think that poll manager was really trying to get those Express Poll (machines) working and she didn’t issue her first ballot until 7:25 a.m., but she did start issuing those paper ballots.
“That’s why that poll is staying open later.”
In addition to the issues at the Annistown Elementary precinct, Sorenson said poll workers also had trouble with the Express Poll machines at precincts located at Anderson-Livsey Elementary School near Snellville, Harbins Elementary School in Dacula, the Suwanee library branch and Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Lawrenceville.
Poll workers use the machines to generate ballots on the cards that voters insert into voting machines to cast their votes. It was not immediately clear whether it was an issue with the machines or with the cards.
In the cases of four of the affected precincts, the issues were with the system itself. In the case of the fifth precinct, which was located at Anderson-Livsey Elementary School, it was human error, according to Sorenson.
The county spokesman said the person who packed the kit for that precinct forgot to include power cords for the Express Poll machines and they ran off battery power until that ran out around 7:45 a.m.
The issues at each precinct had been resolved by mid-day though.
Meanwhile, Democrats are encouraging voters who may have gotten frustrated and left polling locations in Gwinnett County this morning because of issues with voting machines to go back to their precinct and try again.
U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga.; state Sen. Gloria Butler, D-Stone Mountain; state Rep. Dar’Shun Kendrick, D-Lithonia; 7th Congressional District candidate Carolyn Bourdeaux; Gwinnett County Board of Education candidate Everton Blair and 2014 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jason Carter stood outside the polling location at Annistown Elementary School and encouraged voters to not give up.
Earlier in the day, county spokesman Joe Sorenson confirmed poll workers at multiple voting precincts in the county were experiencing issues with machines that put ballots on voting cards that are handed out to voters when they check in to vote.
“If you were here this morning and encountered any problems, please come back to vote,” Butler said in a plea that was televised live by TV news stations on social media. “Your vote is so important today. It is more important than you could ever imagine.”