David Redmond of Smyrna said he was grateful for the Saturday voting, something available for the first time for a Presidential election in Georgia, because he works near the Atlanta airport and has a hard time voting during the week.
“It’s just my duty,” said Redmond, 41. “I’d rather miss a Saturday of watching football than a day of work.”
Redmond said he missed the Georgia-Florida game to cast his ballot to re-elect Democratic President Barack Obama.
“I think it took longer than four years to get into this mess, it will take longer to get out of,” he said. “You don’t change leadership in the middle.”
Redmond also voted in favor of the state’s charter schools amendment, which, if approved by voters, would allow the state to create charter schools over the objection of local school districts.
“Having better options for the kids will be a way to cut the red tape,” he said.
John Prendergast, 70, said he waited three-and-a-half hours to vote for the charter schools amendment and Obama’s Republican opponent, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
“I think he can get the country back to work. Period,” the Marietta resident said. “I think he has the background in business and he’ll make a great President.”
Prendergast said the line, which at times went halfway around the Civic Center, was tolerable.
“We didn’t expect it, but, to be honest, it wasn’t that bad,” he said.
Tom LeBoutillier of east Cobb said he waited two-and-a-half hours to vote for Romney, but felt things looked good for Obama judging from the other voters in line.
“From the demographics I see up there — I think Romney’s got the state — but it’s about 8-to-1 black,” said LeBoutillier, 70.
Polls have shown Obama with strong support among African Americans.
While he said he likes Obama’s wife, Michelle, LeBoutillier questioned why the President has refused to take billionaire Donald Trump up on his offer to make public his college transcripts and passport history in exchange for a donation of $5 million to the charity of Obama’s choice.
“There’s a lot of Internet smoke about Barack, and I know a lot of it’s Internet ‘whatever,’ but I can’t believe it’s all smoke,” he said. “There’s too much of it out there.”
LeBoutillier also voted for the charter schools amendment.
“The problem in Georgia resides with the breakdown in the family, I don’t think charter schools will cure that, but anything in that direction is a positive,” he said.
Vinings resident David Lloyd, 26, said he had to vote on Saturday because he is usually travelling during the week, and it seemed like a better option than voting by mail. He decided to vote for Obama after watching the Presidential debates and finding the President to be steadier than Romney.
“It’s going to be important to have consistency,” he said.
Lloyd said he voted against the charter schools amendment.
“I’d rather see resources go to fixing schools we have in place,” he said. “To me, it’s kind of a workaround.”
While polls were scheduled to close at 4 p.m. Saturday, voters were still lined up well outside the Civic Center at that time. Anyone in line when the polls close is allowed to vote.
Cobb Elections Director Janine Eveler said that Saturday’s lines were the longest the county had seen at either the Civic Center, where early voting had taken place since Thursday, or the main elections office on Whitlock Avenue, where ballots have been cast since Oct. 15. Previously, the longest lines had been three hours, with waits sometimes getting as low as 45 minutes.
“The longest wait times seem to be mid-morning through early afternoon,” she said.
On Whitlock, Eveler said the longest waits were a bit over three hours on Saturday morning, with lines cutting back to one-and-a-half to two hours the rest of the day. Some were in line as early as 6:40 a.m., waiting for the polls to open at 9.
“We really didn’t know what to expect because this is the first year we’ve had Saturday voting,” she said. “Many people we talked to today said they could just as easily vote another day next week so they left, others said they didn’t want to take time on a work day so they’d rather just wait in line for Saturday voting.”
Eveler said that a local television station erroneously reported that the Civic Center was the only place in the county where voting was taking place Saturday, which could have contributed to the longer lines there.
As of Friday, 18,201 people had taken advantage of advanced in-person voting in Cobb through 10 days, Eveler said. In 2008, 32,499 people had voted early in-person by this time. But that was through 26 days of voting, before the State Legislature voted to shorten the advance voting time.
Eveler said the county had issued 25,327 mail-in ballots by Friday, compared to 38,967 during the longer voting period in 2008.
Early and advance voting will be available at the following locations:
* Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the main Elections office, located at 736 Whitlock Ave. in Marietta.
* Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Cobb County Civic Center, 548 South Marietta Parkway, Marietta; East Cobb Government Service Center, 4400 Lower Roswell Road, Marietta; Noonday Baptist Church Sanctuary, 4121 Canton Road, Marietta; Smyrna Community Center, 200 Village Green Circle, Smyrna; NorthStar Church, 3413 Blue Springs Road NW, Kennesaw; Ward Recreation Center, Lost Mountain. Park, 4845 Dallas Highway, Powder Springs; South Cobb Community Center, 620 Lions Club Drive, Mableton; and at the South Cobb Recreation Center, 875 Six Flags Drive, Austell.
* On Election Day, Nov. 6, 153 polling places will be open in Cobb from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. To find your polling location, visit the Secretary of State’s My Voter page at mvp.sos.ga.us.