Early voting period brings terrifying wait times and mail in ballot confusion


This year, the call for voting has seen a dramatic increase across America. Credit: Unsplash

Denis Ilksoy

That time we have all been eagerly waiting for the past 4 years has finally come: The 2020 Tokyo Olympics! Unfortunately, it isn’t the event at hand, however this time of the year is very critical. It is the time to vote all across the United States, and there is a lot to process. This year, not only will people be voting for the President of the United States of America, but for the Georgia Senators, House of Representatives, as well as special elections for congress. Local elections like sheriff and tax commissioner, are just as if not more important, because it directly affects your neighborhood and city.

The problem this year is a huge one since the population as a whole is calling for record-breaking voter turnout this year, but there is still the looming threat of COVID-19 sitting atop the polls. This makes for a rush to the early voting booths with thousands showing up across Fulton County each day, or those who choose the physically safer, but logistically riskier option of mail in ballots.

According to a Fulton County voter, Terence Rushin “7 hours, 45 minutes, and 13 seconds it took for me to vote in Fulton County, Georgia.” He continued “As soon as I saw the line, I started my stopwatch.” Our own first time voter, Senior, Mary Rains said her experience lasted “over 3 and a half hours.” These wait times for voting are unbelievable and the issues run much deeper than just crowded polling stations.

Georgia especially, which is so culturally diverse in urban centers like Atlanta, often has a differing voting experience between people of color and white voters. In some voting zones such as Fickett Elementary in Atlanta which has a 2% white population, are experiencing polling system outages, whereas in majority white populated zones such as Sandy Springs sees little to no lines at the voting booths. 

 The start of these issues is difficult to trace and is highly debated throughout the state, but there is no doubt that no one should have to wait 7 hours to vote anywhere in the country. 

Another solution to voting is through mail-in ballots, where the voter will mark his or her choices in a sealed envelope and send them in to a counting station. Naturally, this comes with many issues as well. First of all the sheer amount of work it takes just to open the envelopes and ensure each vote gets counted is tremendous and will always result in votes being added on after election day on November 3. The second problem is that after the Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court case, states are able to change their voting laws without federal consent. This results in absentee ballots being discarded for reasons such as slightly differing signatures which is easy to mess up.

Voting this year is going to be very difficult for everyone, often especially people of color. There are many crucial things to vote for and many obstacles to clear before your voice is heard. So regardless of what method you are voting with, take the time to be careful and complete procedures accordingly so your ballot is counted this November.

For an opinion article on why voting is important check out Gracie’s article here.