The polls in Tuesday's nonpartisan city elections have now closed in both Atlanta and Sandy Springs (except for one Atlanta precinct). In Sandy Springs the polls closed at 7 p.m., but in Atlanta, including Buckhead, they closed at 8 p.m.
Judging by the lack of voters at three local polling places, voter turnout may be even lower than predicted at two but possibly higher at one.
At Sarah Smith Elementary School in Buckhead, there were no residents voting when a reporter arrived at 7:36 p.m. and none came while he was there.
Poll Manager Mary Foster summed up the turnout as “slower than slow,” but another poll worker said about 605 of the precinct’s 2,400 registered voters cast their ballots Tuesday, about 20 percent.
When asked if there were any problems with the voting machines at the polling place Tuesday, Foster said, “Nothing major. I was able to call it in and [fix] it myself.”
At Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Buckhead, Poll Manager John Packman said 163 residents had voted as of 2:30 p.m. The polling place has about 1,400 registered voters.
“Turnout’s a bit low, but probably about what they expected,” Packman said. “[There have been] no problems. It’s been very, very smooth.”
Asked if he thinks there will be an uptick in voting later today, Packman said, “I think so because it’s been picking up since lunch. We had our first line all day. So, I’m hoping more people vote this afternoon.
“But, from 7 to 8 [p.m.], nobody’ll vote. They don’t know [the poll] is open. We’re [city of Atlanta] open ’til 8. ... [Closing time] is 7 p.m. for everybody else.”
At High Point Elementary School in Sandy Springs, the gymnasium was empty at 9:06 a.m. save for one other voter and five poll workers/volunteers.
“It’s been slow today, a low turnout,” said Nate Bednar, the poll manager. ”No problems so far. Things are running smoothly.”
The High Point polling place has about 2,900 registered voters but only 54 had cast ballots as of 9:06 a.m., Bednar said.
Fulton County Registration and Elections Director Richard Barron has predicted voter turnout to be similar to the 2009 city elections, when 18.2 percent of residents cast ballots.
“My guess is we’re going to have somewhere around 15 to 20 percent,” Barron, who took the post in June, said late last month. “That might be optimistic based on the advance voting numbers. … This year I think it’s been really slow through [Oct. 24]. I just think it’s going to be lower this year based on what we’ve seen in the office based on what my staff has told me.”
In a news release emailed to the media Tuesday at 2:23 p.m. by Dexter Chambers, spokesman for the city of Atlanta, said all but one polling place opened on time. Precinct 06R, located at First Presbyterian Church, 1328 Peachtree St. in Midtown, opened 28 minutes late. The Fulton County Department of Registration & Elections is currently seeking a court order to allow this precinct to remain open until 8:28 p.m.
According to the release, “Turnout has been steady. There have been no reports of long lines.”
The department has received reports of a problem regarding Atlanta precincts 02H and 02I. For this election, these precincts were assigned to vote at Epworth Methodist Church in Atlanta. Some voters at this location have experienced precinct assignment issues for Atlanta Board of Education races.
“The Department of Registration & Elections is working with DeKalb County and Kennesaw State University’s Center for Election Systems to identify the source of this issue,” the release stated. “In the meantime, this location has been provided with additional provisional ballots to accommodate any voters who were affected by this issue. Each provisional ballot will be counted as provided by law.
“Residents who believe they have an incorrect ballot should notify a poll worker immediately, before casting their votes. Those voters should request a provisional ballot and vote by such means.”
According to a news release Tuesday afternoon from Fulton County Elections and Registration, 8,490 residents (unofficially) participated in early voting. The county has 1,800 poll workers covering today’s election and there are 523,289 active registered voters in Fulton and 152,176 inactive ones.
Check back with the Neighbor later today for updates on election results.