Wim Laven arrived to his polling location in Atlanta’s northern suburbs this week unsure what to make of recent allegations of voter difficulties at the ballot box. Then he waited two hours in the Georgia sun; saw one person in the line treated for heat exhaustion; and watched a second collapse, receive help from paramedics, yet refuse to be taken to the hospital — so he could remain in line and cast his ballot. Mr. Laven is now a believer. “I have a hard time imaging this is anything but an intentional effort,” said Mr. Laven, who teaches political science at Kennesaw State University. “I can’t imagine this is just pure incompetence. Everyone knew how serious people have been around here about getting out the vote.”
As Georgians cast their first in-person ballots on Monday in the state’s fiercely contested gubernatorial election, what were once hypothetical fears about the state’s inability to handle what could be a record turnout for a nonpresidential election may be becoming reality.
Vote totals have increased almost 200 percent at the same point since the last gubernatorial election, according to the independent tracker Georgia Votes, but many worry the state has either failed to adequately prepare for such increased interest or Republican state officials have intentionally mounted barriers to dissuade communities of likely Democratic residents from voting.