ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Five states are holding primaries today, including Georgia. While the state saw record absentee turnout, long lines and problems with new voting machines plagued those voters who did show up to the polls. As Georgia Public Broadcasting's Stephen Fowler reports, the meltdown comes ahead of what's expected to be a competitive election in Georgia this fall.
STEPHEN FOWLER, BYLINE: Before the first vote was cast, elections officials warned of longer lines, fewer polling sites and likely problems with a new voting system. So Anita Walker showed up to vote at Sandtown Recreation Center in South Fulton County 20 minutes before the polls opened.
ANITA WALKER: We stood here for an extremely long time before we even knew anything, and then we had to continue to wait for them to come back up. So it was very chaotic this morning.
FOWLER: All of the voting machines were down for hours, and she did not cast her ballot until 10:45. Across the state, similar stories played out. Some counties delivered voting machines to the wrong location; others had issues with elderly poll workers dropping out. Still, others were consolidated into massive precincts overwhelmed with people coming to vote in person. Eighty-year-old Anita Heard was frustrated none of the voting machines at her DeKalb County polling place were working, and poll workers ran out of backup paper ballots after just 20 voters.
ANITA HEARD: America has gotten to the point that we are now taking the liberties of people even voting from them. How can we do this?
FOWLER: Gabe Sterling with the secretary of state's office says the problems are limited to a few counties and argued many of the reported issues can be fixed by more training.
GABRIEL STERLING: The vast majority of counties - metro, suburban, urban - are all doing fine with this system, and they're getting through it.
FOWLER: Georgia is considered a battleground for this November's election and has two U.S. Senate races that will keep turnout and attention to voting high.
For NPR News, I'm Stephen Fowler in Atlanta.
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