Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

Long lines form outside the Cobb County Board of Elections in suburban Atlanta on the morning of October 12, 2020, the first day of in-person early voting. (Photo: Steve Schaefer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Long lines form outside the Cobb County Board of Elections in suburban Atlanta on the morning of October 12, 2020, the first day of in-person early voting. (Photo: Steve Schaefer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Massive Lines in Georgia on First Day of In-Person Voting Exemplify Ongoing 'Voter Suppression,' Say Critics

"We're becoming desensitized to unacceptable burdens on the franchise," one political scientist said. "People died for this right. [It] shouldn't take hours to participate in our democracy."

Kenny Stancil

Georgia's first day of in-person early voting Monday was marred by excessive wait times, as the combination of high turnout and technical difficulties resulted in long lines and possible health risks—a situation that voting rights advocates described as an example of intense voter engagement and excitement being undermined by a troubling system of voter suppression. 

"This is so incredibly unfair. Voting should be easy."
—Molly Jong-Fast, The Daily Beast

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC), "voters wrapped around buildings... even before polling places opened."

All registered voters in the state are eligible to vote prior to November 3, and early voters may cast a ballot at any polling station located in their county. 

The AJC noted that "in-person early voters will join the 439,000 Georgia voters who have already returned their absentee ballots," adding that "by the time Election Day finally arrives, over two-thirds of the state's 5 million projected turnout will have already voted."

While this year's added flexibility is meant to encourage participation amid the coronavirus pandemic, election officials explained that "their goal is to keep lines moving and avoid problems" that occurred during Georgia's primary election on June 9, when voters in some areas experienced wait times of several hours. 

Early evidence indicates that officials are not meeting their stated objective. 

The Washington Post reported that "voters waited in line for up to five hours across the metro Atlanta region and surrounding suburbs."

"This is a picture of voter suppression," tweeted Claire McCaskill, a former senator from Missouri and current NBC News and MSNBC analyst. "Why do Americans have to wait in lines this long?"

At State Farm Arena, Georgia's largest early voting site, there was "a glitch with voter check-in computers" that caused lines to stop "after voters received an 'invalid card' error when inserting green voter access cards into touchscreens," the AJC reported.

AP News reported Monday that a federal judge on Sunday had expressed "serious concerns about Georgia's new election system but declined to order the state to abandon its touchscreen voting machines in favor of hand-marked paper ballots."

Adrienne Crowley, who waited an hour and a half to vote at the arena told the Atlanta city newspaper that "it was a little frustrating," but added that she would have waited "all day if I had to."

"It's a positive and a negative," Smyrna resident Danielle Driscoll told the AJC, referring to a line that had come to a 15-minute standstill outside the South Cobb Regional Library.

"It's a positive because people are voting," Driscoll said, "but it's a negative because I don't want to wait in line."

Brendan Nyhan, a political scientist at Dartmouth, argued on social media that "we're becoming desensitized to unacceptable burdens on the franchise."

"People died for this right," Nyhan added. It "shouldn't take hours to participate in our democracy."

Voting rights expert Ari Berman tweeted that it's "great to see so many people excited about voting."

"But it's unacceptable to make them wait so long," he added. 

Journalist Molly Jong-Fast stated that "this is so incredibly unfair. Voting should be easy."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Peace Advocates Sound Warnings as Progressive Lawmakers Go All-In for $40 Billion Ukraine War Package

"Russia's invasion of Ukraine must be condemned," says one activist. "But the administration has been telegraphing for weeks that its war aims now go well beyond defending Ukraine."

Brett Wilkins ·


Oklahoma Lawmakers Pass Strictest US Abortion Ban While Roe Still Stands

Reproductive rights supporters vowed to fight against the ban that begins at fertilization and, like legislation in Texas, "creates a bounty-hunting scheme" for enforcement.

Jessica Corbett ·


Judy Blume, Mo Willems Among 1,300 Children's Authors to Condemn 'Wave of Book Suppression'

"Reading stories that reflect the diversity of our world builds empathy and respect for everyone's humanity."

Kenny Stancil ·


Now Do Windfall Tax, Say Climate Groups After Passage of Big Oil Price Gouging Bill

"Voters will reward politicians who stand up for people, not polluters," said one campaigner, "and taxing windfall profits is wildly popular in every part of the country."

Brett Wilkins ·


Ocasio-Cortez: Maloney Should Quit DCCC Post If He Runs Against Mondaire Jones

"It's completely inappropriate" for Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney to be in charge of the House Democrats' campaign arm "if he's going to challenge another member," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo