May 21—Early voting locations around Cobb County saw a surge of voters on Friday, the last day of early voting for the May 24 election.
Lines grew longer throughout the day, according to live wait times posted on the Cobb Elections site.
Times ranged from 10 to 20 minutes at most of the 10 early voting locations at 11:30 a.m. Friday, but had reached 30 minutes at the South Cobb Regional Library and 60 minutes at the Cobb County School District Brown Professional Learning Center.
At 2 p.m., two locations had wait times of 30 minutes. The East Cobb Government Center wait time had reached 60 minutes, while the Main Elections Office and CCSD Brown Center had reached 75 minutes.
And by 5 p.m., wait times had reached 90 minutes at the Main Elections Office. Three other locations had wait times of an hour or more, and three other locations had wait times of 30 minutes to an hour.
"People procrastinate, or they make their decisions at the last minute," Cobb Elections Director Janine Eveler told the MDJ. "Or it gets in the news, so they see it. Every single election cycle, it's the last day that gets all the crowds."
The first day of early voting, May 2, saw 1,995 votes cast, and the following nine days typically saw about 2,000 to 2,500 votes cast. But toward the end of last week, voting increased, with about 3,300 votes cast Friday, May 13.
About 3,800 votes were cast Monday of this week, and each day saw more: about 4,400 Tuesday, 5,000 Wednesday and 6,000 Thursday.
Early voting data for Friday wasn't available by press time, but Eveler guessed it would probably be double the number seen on any other early voting day.
About 51,600 votes had been cast in Cobb as of the end of Thursday, a figure which includes 46,452 in-person ballots. Roughly 10% of Cobb's 510,000 active registered voters have cast a ballot.
As has been the case throughout early voting, Republican primary ballots have outpaced Democratic primary ballots. Roughly 26,800 GOP ballots have been cast, roughly 19,200 Democratic ballots have been cast and about 500 nonpartisan ballots have been cast.
Nearly 9,500 absentee ballots have been issued by Cobb Elections. Of those, about 6,300 have been returned, about 5,200 have been accepted and 72 have been rejected.
While any Cobb voter can vote at any early voting location, elections staff still keep track of the precincts early voters are registered in.
Voters registered in the Lost Mountain 01 and Lost Mountain 03 precincts have had the highest turnout so far, Eveler said. Precincts in east Cobb are a close second. Both areas have cityhood referendums on the ballot that will decide the future of local government in areas that are currently unincorporated Cobb.
"So far, in these precincts that are voting really heavily, they've already got a turnout of 20 to 25%," Eveler said.
Early voting turnout has been historic statewide, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's office said Friday.
Through Thursday, more than 700,000 people had early voted in Georgia, a 180% increase from the same point in the early voting period in the 2018 primary election
"The record early voting turnout is a testament to the security of the voting system and the hard work of our county election officials," Raffensperger said. "As Secretary of State, I promised to strike a strong balance between access and security in our elections, and these numbers demonstrate that I kept that promise and that voters have confidence in Georgia's elections."
Voters at the Tim Lee Senior Center in east Cobb saw shorter lines than some other, more popular locations Friday. While some had to wait a bit, voters told the MDJ that once they were out of the line, the process was smooth and simple.
William McGahagin said waiting in line and voting took him about 30 minutes.
"Everybody was knowledgeable about what they were doing," he said. "Just, no problems, I didn't have any."
Voters Margaret Runstadler and Greg Schnute waited about 15 minutes before getting checked in.
Nancy Jardy said she waited outside for about 10 minutes before starting the voting process. She and her husband, Jim, typically vote early.
"I really don't mind being in the line on Election Day, it's exciting," she said, "But I also don't mind voting early, so here I am."
McGahagin said he really didn't see an excuse for people not to vote.
"I'm not the brightest light bulb. I mean, if you can't vote in the state of Georgia, you don't need to be voting," McGahagin said. "No. 1, you're too stupid to vote. I'm sorry to say that, but it's a fact. It's the easiest place I've ever seen to vote. Go in, show your ID and they just step you through it, step by step."