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Georgia Primary Mishaps And August Runoff, November Election Concerns

ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) -- Two days after the Georgia Primary, officials are still counting the votes. Voter advocates are still pondering what went wrong at several polls and what could happen if the problems aren't fixed before the August runoffs and November election.

"It was truly remarkable to watch a failure of Democracy right in front of our faces," said Nse Ufot, the CEO of the New Georgia Project, a non-partisan organization known for doing large-scale voter registrations.

She says they've helped over 420,000 Georgians register to vote in all 159 Georgia counties.

The day was marked by delays, long lines and people waiting several hours. Social distancing guidelines for navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic also contributed to the delays.

"There were poll workers who weren't trained on the machines, poll workers who didn't have passwords to get access to the machines, people running out of paper, we saw batteries dying," Ufot said.

She says there's no excuse for the chaos and confusion she witnessed during the primary.

"All of this was predictable, could have been addressed in real time," said Ufot.

She says it specifically could have been addressed in Fulton and Dekalb Counties, where the Secretary of State  Brad Raffensperger has launched an investigation into their election processes, amid accusations of voter suppression and incompetency at the state level.

CW69 reached out to his office for comment and was told no one wasn't available to interview.

Raffensperger did issue a press release indicating:

As the Secretary of State, I will continue to work with our county elections boards and directors to train them to properly deliver, install and maintain our voting system. It is clear that some counties continue to not perform. It is the responsibility of the counties to properly deliver and install equipment. It is the responsibility of the counties to properly train its poll workers.

The Secretary of State's Office cannot administer elections, every Georgia county is charged with that responsibility. But what is clear from yesterday, is that while almost every county delivered successful elections—a couple did not.

I am working with the General Assembly to help give the State greater authority to directly intervene and require management changes as well as call for the counties themselves to pay for the remedial action. My office's POST-certified law enforcement officers will undertake a complete and thorough investigation into what happened in Fulton County, including not just what happened yesterday but also any improperly handled absentee ballot applications.

We are here to protect every voter. Republicans, Democrats and Independents deserve well run elections. That is why we are proposing to the General Assembly legislation that will enable the state to intervene and look into failing elections offices, when it's clear there are continued failures.

Fulton County officials say their county failed in the processing of absentee ballots.

"The emailed ones were put to the side to be done at the end, and then a lot of them were lost. I've seen documented reports that 8,000 of them were lost," said District 1 Fulton County Commissioner Liz Hausmann.

It's hard to tell just yet how the issues will affect the votes. Ufot says there's a lot of work to do to before August.

When asked what the solution is, she said, "Massive recruiting of election workers, massive training, pushing for absentee ballots, and vote by mail."

Ufot says she was amazed by the voters who stuck it out this time.

"If there is a silver lining to be identified, it is the resiliency of Georgians and their determination. My heart was really warm," she said.

She says there's enough time for officials to make sure the next election runs smoothly.

©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. CNN contributed to this report. 

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