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Chaos, runoffs, and confusion rule the day after Georgia’s primary

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    ATLANTA, GA (WGCL) — As Georgians awoke Wednesday, the questions running across their minds were what happened and who won? When they went to sleep Tuesday, neither question could be answered and even as Wednesday morning wore on, the state only had partial answers for one of the questions.

Tuesday’s primary election was supposed to debut the new election machines the state purchased to prevent problems. Instead, in multiple counties around the state and especially in metro Atlanta, confusion about the new machines combined with the pandemic to produce chaotic situation that played out as voters tried to cast their ballots.

The chaos played out in lengthy lines for voters with some having to wait upwards of four hours or more to cast their ballot. Things started chaotically in Fulton County and other metro Atlanta areas before polls even opened with missing machines, errors in the paperwork, and other issues. The problems prompted Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to tweet out a plea for people to be patient as they hit the polls.

Some polling places didn’t close until after 10 p.m. due to court orders after they reported major problems in the morning for voters. DeKalb County ordered all polling locations open until 9:30 p.m. The problems led to a battle of words between county officials and the state.

“The Secretary of State’s office has alleged these issues resulted from a failure of county leadership. If there was a failure of leadership, it starts where the buck should stop, at the top,” DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond said Tuesday.

Georgia Secretary of State said earlier in the day the problems were purely at the county level.

“Obviously, the first time a new voting system is used, there is going to be a learning curve, and voting in a pandemic only increased these difficulties,” Raffensperger said. “But every other county faced these same issues and were significantly better prepared to respond so that voters had every opportunity to vote.”

Two investigations were launched into the problems, one from the Georgia House and a second from the Georgia Secretary of State. Past the initial issues,

In some of the most hotly contested races, voters were still awaiting results late Wednesday morning. Two of the most hotly contested and followed races were for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate to face Senator David Perdue, and the Fulton County District Attorney’s race.

In the Democratic race, Jon Ossoff was leading with 49 percent of the vote and 93 percent of the precincts reporting. The lead, while large, would not be enough to avoid a runoff election with Teresa Tomlinson or Sarah Riggs Amico. Ossofff is looking to rebound after losing a historically expensive House special election in 2017 against Karen Handel. If Ossoff is able to pull out a victory, he will face Senator David Perdue who had no competition in the primary and has a sizable war chest at his disposal for the general election.

In the Fulton County District Attorney’s race, incumbent Paul Howard was losing his race to Fani Willis, though neither was over the 50 percent mark in the race. Howard was second to Wilis, 40-34 percent respectively. District Attorney Howard has been at the center of controversy lately for his decision to charge Atlanta police officers who tased a couple during the first weekend of protests after the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.

Howard made the decision to charge the officers after just a few days of investigation. The move drew surprise from Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and from Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields. Howard was also criticized for the fact that multiple other cases were in his office but haven’t been moved forward with the same speed as the case of the officers in the protest.

Other races saw multiple primaries head for runoffs in Congressional primaries and new leaders elected to serve in other positions.

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