Joe Biden has won Democratic presidential primaries in Georgia and West Virginia
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the 2020 primary elections (all times local):
Joe Biden has won the Democratic presidential primaries in Georgia and West Virginia.
The former vice president was declared the winner Tuesday, after a day of voting problems plagued Georgia. Voters reported long lines, equipment not working and absentee ballots not received. Polling places in at least nine counties extended voting hours because of the problems.
Biden had already amassed enough delegates to be Democrats' presumptive presidential nominee. His status will be formalized at the party's convention in August.
Georgia is considered a potential battleground state in November's election. It hasn't gone for a Democratic presidential contender since 1992.
West Virginia is a reliably Republican state.
Polling places in at least nine Georgia counties will remain open later than expected because of voting problems.
Voters reported long lines Tuesday, voting equipment not working and absentee ballots not received, among other complaints. The extensions span the northwest corner of the state to the southeast coastline.
In Bartow County, a heavily Republican county on the suburban fringe of Atlanta, county officials extended the hours at one polling place by half an hour, saying the polling place was unable to open on time because of “unforeseen circumstances.”
A judge in DeKalb County signed an order approving extended voting hours for seven polling places. The extensions, ranging from 15 minutes to three hours and 10 minutes, were the result of delays in voting because of “technical and logistical issues."
Laurens County Probate Judge Helen Harper says hours were extended at one of the rural middle Georgia county’s 16 polling places by an hour after workers couldn’t get the computerized devices using for signing in voters to work on Tuesday morning.
Georgia's House speaker is directing leaders of the House Governmental Affairs Committee to investigate the voting problems in Tuesday's primaries.
Republican House Speaker David Ralston said in a statement that the move was prompted by anecdotes of “unacceptable deficiencies” from around the state: poll workers lacking proper training, voting equipment not working, absentee ballots not received, among other problems.
“The legislative branch of government has an obligation to go beyond the mutual finger-pointing and get to the truth and the real reasons underlying these frustrations and concerns,” Ralston said.
Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told The Associated Press in an interview that county election directors are responsible for the voting problems.
“It falls back on the management team to make sure the poll workers are trained properly,” he said. “The machines are operating fine when the operator knows what they are doing.”
But voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams, who lost the 2018 governor's race to Republican Brian Kemp, tweeted that Raffensperger “owns this disaster.”
“He must stop finger-pointing and fix it,” the Democrat wrote.
Georgia's secretary of state is blaming county election directors for voting problems in Tuesday's statewide primary elections.
Republican Brad Raffensperger said in an interview with The Associated Press that voting was running smoothly across much of the state, except for two metro Atlanta counties.
“When these things arise, and it’s really specifically in one or two counties, in Fulton and Dekalb counties that had these issues today, it leads us back to the failure of the management of the county election directors,” Raffensperger said. “It has nothing to do with what we’re doing in the rest of Georgia.”
But the problems weren't exclusive to Fulton and Dekalb counties. Voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams' group Fair Fight Action said voters had reported that at least 21 polling locations in at least eight counties did not open as scheduled at 7 a.m.
In Chatham County, which includes Savannah, voting hours were being extended two hours because of problems and delays.
It was Georgia’s first time using its new voting system, which combined touchscreens with scanned paper ballots in races for president, U.S. Senate and dozens of other contests.
The Biden campaign is denouncing the voting problems in Georgia and calling on the state to make improvements before the November general election.
Rachana Desai Martin, the campaign's national director for voter protection and senior counsel, said Tuesday that the long lines, undelivered absentee ballots and voting machine malfunctions were “completely unacceptable” and a threat to American values of free and fair elections.
“We only have a few months left until voters around the nation head to the polls again, and efforts should begin immediately to ensure that every Georgian -- and every American -- is able to safely exercise their right to vote. Our campaign will remain fully engaged in defending that right,” she said.
It was Georgia's first time using its new voting system, which combined touchscreens with scanned paper ballots in races for president, U.S. Senate and dozens of other contests.
The president of a group that advocates for fair elections is calling on Georgia to extends its voting hours following widespread reports of voting machine malfunctions and long lines in its twice-delayed primary election.
“This election has been a catastrophe,” said Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “If we view the primary election as a dry run for November, Georgia gets an F.”
Clarke said her group has filed notices with Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties asking them to extend voting hours Tuesday because of the widespread reports of problems. People have reported waiting in line for up to five hours.
“I place the indictment on the secretary of state and the governor for not doing all they can to ensure, in the middle of a pandemic, that counties would have the support, resources and training necessary to administer an election in which they were using new machines,” Clarke said. “They could have anticipated every problem we are seeing across the state today.”
Georgia's Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, has opened an investigation of voting problems in Fulton and Dekalb counties and said "every other county” was significantly better prepared. But voting delays haven't been limited to those two counties.
Georgia's secretary of state has opened an investigation into voting problems in two counties in metro Atlanta amid reports of voting machine malfunctions in its twice-delayed primary election.
Republican Brad Raffensperger on Tuesday announced investigations into Fulton and Dekalb counties' election process. He called what was happening there “unacceptable” and said his office was investigating how to resolve the issues before the November general election.
It's the first time Georgia is using its new voting system, which combined touchscreens with scanned paper ballots in races for president, U.S. Senate and dozens of other contests. But Raffensperger said “every other county” was significantly better prepared.
However, voting delays weren't limited to Atlanta. In Savannah, Mayor Van Johnson said he was “inundated” with calls Tuesday morning from voters reporting “extensive delays.”
Technical problems caused at least one polling place in the Augusta area to open more than 90 minutes late, Richmond County elections supervisor Lynn Bailey told WRDW-TV. News outlets also reported problems with poll workers operating voting equipment in Macon and a long line stretching through the parking lot of polling site at a church in Columbus.