Early voting began Monday across Hall County for the Nov. 3 election, with 4,460 people going to the polls, according to a county spokesperson.
Voters who talked with The Times at 100 Brenau Ave. in downtown Gainesville reported wait times around an hour. Voters said they were also largely satisfied with the voting process.
Latoya Castillo, poll manager at the downtown Gainesville location, said at about 2:30 p.m. on Monday that there had been a steady stream of voters all day with occasional rushes of heavier traffic. She estimated most people were in and out in about 30 minutes.
“We have been really busy today. I don’t know if it’s going to continue that way, but for right now, we have been trying to ... move them as quick as possible,” Castillo said.
Castillo said some people experienced longer wait times. She said canceling absentee ballots -- a process that takes place when a voter who has received an absentee ballot to fill out decides instead to vote in person -- has been part of those delays. Another, she said, has been the lack of poll workers.
“We would love to have more workers come in,” Castillo said, adding that, ideally, 15 poll workers would work the polling location that Monday had seven. “But I haven’t had anybody say, ‘Oh my gosh, this is the worst thing ever.’”
Castillo said a shortage of poll workers is a widespread issue in the county.
Hall County has about 180-200 poll workers at voting locations for early voting.
“That’s an adequate number,” Election Director Lori Wurtz said Tuesday, Oct. 13. “After the first day, we spent some time analyzing our poll workers’ deployment schedule and made some necessary adjustments … to place our poll workers where the need and demand is. We’ll fluctuate from day to day, I’m sure.
“Our poll workers are wonderful and will go where they are needed.”
Hall County has a total 600 poll workers available, with that number expected to work on Election Day, or Nov. 3.
Voters generally reported a smooth process and told The Times they wanted to be absolutely sure their ballot would be received.
Most voters sported masks or other face coverings and observed social distancing guidelines. Poll workers said they periodically made the rounds reminding voters to stay at least 6 feet apart.
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Duane Fry, who lives about a mile from his early voting location near the intersection of Mundy Mill Road and McEver Road, said he'd come to vote in person because that's what his family has always done. The only time he said he'd voted absentee was when he was out of town during an election.
That location opened at about 7:30 a.m. Monday, half an hour behind schedule, which Assistant County Administrator Zach Propes said was due to a staffing shortage at that location. Propes said he had not heard of delays at other polling places.
Early voting continues weekdays between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. through Oct. 30. Polls will also be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24.
Hall has eight early voting locations:
Mulberry Creek Community Center, 4491 J.M. Turk Road, Flowery Branch
Mundy Mill Road Precinct, 4335 Mundy Mill Road, Oakwood
East Hall Community Center, 3911 P. Davidson Road, Gainesville
North Hall Community Center, 4175 Nopone Road, Gainesville
City of Gainesville Downtown Building (old Turner Wood and Smith building), 100 Brenau Ave., Gainesville
Murrayville Library, 4796 Thompson Bridge Road, Gainesville
Spout Springs Library, 6488 Spout Springs Road, Flowery Branch
Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center Activity Hall, 1855 Calvary Church Road, Gainesville
If voters wait until Nov. 3, they will need to go to their designated polling place on Election Day. Information about polling places is available on the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office My Voter Page website.
Reporters Megan Reed and Jeff Gill contributed.