According to the Georgia Secretary of State, 126,876 Peach State voters cast their ballot on Monday, a record for the first day of early voting.
After several weeks of mail-in voting, more than 425,000 ballots have already been cast in Georgia, according to data from Catalist, a company that provides data, analytics and other services to Democrats, academics and nonprofit organizations. More than 1.5 million Georgians have requested ballots so far, shattering records form past years, amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Georgia is seeing record turnout for early voting because of excitement and enthusiasm of the upcoming election,” said Walter Jones, a spokesperson for the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. “Long lines are to be expected — voters need to be aware of all of their options including three weeks of early voting, no-excuse absentee and in-person voting day of the election.”
Rocky start at State Farm Arena
The arena is home to the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks. Steve Koonin, President and CEO of the Atlanta Hawks and the State Farm Arena, told CNN, “I am very upset that we were put into this position, that’s why we required people on site and I’m glad to say it got resolved quickly.”
Koonin said election workers were forced to reboot 60 electronic pollbooks Monday morning.
“The cards were being rejected by the machine when a few voters put their cards in, and they were rejected,” he said, referring to the verification of voters’ identities before they cast ballots.
The problems were fixed after about an hour. Multiple voters told CNN that the glitch caused their cards to be rejected, but they were able to vote properly after the machines were rebooted.
“There was some issue with whatever database that was on the poll pads at this site,” said Richard Barron, the elections director in Fulton County, which includes most of Atlanta.
Barron said he did not know what caused the issue. “We re-imported the database and now it’s working,” he said.
Court ruling on eve of voting
A federal judge in Georgia ruled Sunday that the state should continue using voting machines known as ballot-marking deices, denying a request to require hand-marked paper ballots for all votes. A ballot-marking device is a type of voting machine where voters use a touchscreen to pick their candidates, and the machine then records those selections on a separate paper ballot.
“Despite the profound issues raised by the Plaintiffs, the Court cannot jump off the legal edge and potentially trigger major disruption in the legally established state primary process governing the conduct of elections based on a preliminary evidentiary record,” Totenberg wrote.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, defended the state’s voting systems in court, and provided testimony from election officials who said they would struggle to comply with any legal order requiring hand-marked ballots for all voters on such short notice.
“It’s a nuanced opinion, and I’m glad she didn’t throw this election into chaos,” said CNN analyst Jessica Huseman, who also covers voting rights and election administration for ProPublica.
Early insights into Georgia voters
Among the most competitive states tracked by CNN where racial data is available, Georgia currently has the smallest share of ballots cast by White voters. Georgia also has the largest share of ballots cast by Black voters, a key Democratic voting bloc, among these key states.
Additionally, Black voters have currently cast a greater share of pre-Election Day votes in Georgia this cycle compared to this point in 2016. They currently represent more than 35% of those early ballots, up from 29% four years ago. White voters have cast a smaller share of ballots ahead of the election, dropping from 68% in 2016 to 58% currently in the Peach State.
CNN’s Ethan Cohen, Liz Stark and Dianne Gallagher contributed to this article.