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Tanzina Vega: Welcome back to The Takeaway. I'm Tanzina Vega. On our coverage of early voting, we're now looking at Georgia, where more than 128,000 people cast their votes on Monday in a record-breaking first day of early in-person voting but some voters said they waited online nearly eight hours to vote, something the state has dealt with before. Tia Mitchell is a Washington correspondent with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and she joins me now to talk about what's happening on the ground. Tia, thanks for joining me.
Tia Mitchell: Thank you.
Tanzina Vega: Why were there lines of up to eight hours on Monday?
Tia Mitchell: First of all, we have to remember Monday was a holiday for many people. When that coincided with the start of early voting, that increased the amount of people who wanted to take advantage of their day off and go ahead and cast the ballot in person. There were long lines and huge demand but also, there were a few technical glitches. Georgia is implementing a new voter system. It's touchscreen and iPad check-ins and all those types of things.
There were some technical difficulties as well as the social distancing and, of course, the ballots are long so they take more time to fill out. All of those things converged but election officials are saying the biggest factor was just increased demand.
Tanzina Vega: You mean more people just turning out to vote.
Tia Mitchell: Yes. Longer lines, more people.
Tanzina Vega: Tia, when we talked in June after the Georgia primary, you said that in order to avoid some of these long lines that state and county officials were going to have to work together. Are they doing that?
Tia Mitchell: I think that's a mixed bag. I think when things are going well, they're working well together and they speak in ways that appear collaborative. It's when things start going really badly that you see the finger-pointing and fault going to their corners. I will say that after the first couple of days of early voting, it does seem like the state and the counties are working together. For example, some counties have already announced that they're increasing the number of machines at certain early voting locations and one county decided to accelerate its schedule of when it would open additional early voting sites.
Those require collaboration with the state because the state is who coordinates the voters' system. Right now, everyone seems to be working together but we haven't had any major breakdowns that could test those relationships.
Tanzina Vega: Tia, there's a lot of talk about these are folks who lined up to cast their vote in person. What about the people who are voting by mail in Georgia? What's that been like so far?
Tia Mitchell: That has also, of course, been breaking records in Georgia and like many states, Georgia also has the ballot drop-off boxes. One thing that is a factor in Georgia is Georgia Law requires the mail-in ballots to have been received by the final day of election by election day. There were lawsuits to allow for additional time for those ballots to come in. It's been bubbling in the lower courts with various decisions. One decision allowed it, one decision overturned it.
As of right now in Georgia, mail-in ballots have to be received by the time polls close on the final day of the election. There are voting rights groups that are concerned that if ballots are delayed or if the mail is slow or just because people are a little bit unfamiliar with the system, that that could lead to some ballots not being counted if they arrive late.
Tanzina Vega: We're going to be paying close attention to the state of Georgia as we get closer to the November 3rd election. Tia Mitchell is a Washington correspondent with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Tia, thanks for this update.
Tia Mitchell: Thanks for having me.
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