GA: 200 Complaints Before Noon
By Darryl Fears
Long lines greeted Georgia voters at the polls this morning in one of the tightest state primaries in recent memory. Voters lit up the phone lines at the Georgia Election Protection division with nearly 200 complaints before noon, but a spokesman for the Secretary of State, Matt Carrothers, said voting is proceeding smoothly. "Lines are a function of a large turnout due to interest in a highly contested election for both parties," Carrothers said.
Turnout during a week of advanced voting in the Peach State was an indication of the level of interest. More than 203,000 early votes were cast last week, not including about 44,000 absentee votes, Carrothers said. Those 247,000 votes compare to about 48,000 early votes in the primaries for years ago.
The Atlanta Journal and Constitution reported that voters were delayed in at least two locations because electronic polling machines crashed, forcing some to cast paper ballots. Problems were reported in three of the largest counties, DeKalb, Fulton and Cobb.
In the Republican strongholds of Cobb and Gwinnett counties, lines were especially long but moving smoothly. Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee are all running neck-and-neck, according to tracking polls. Each made stops in the state in the week before voting.
On the Democratic side, Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) led Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) by a wide margin in polling.
Voting today began with a reminder to voters from Secretary of State Karen Handel to bring photo identification to the polls. The 2008 presidential primary is the fourth time that Georgians are being asked to bring identification under a law passed by Republicans to curb elections fraud that state Democrats say don't exist. A Georgia driver's license is acceptable, even if it's expired, according to the secretary of state's Web site. Government issued employee identification is good, as well as Tribal photo identification.
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