After long lines the first week of Muscogee County early voting, things have changed for the better in Columbus

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Last week when in-person advance voting started in Georgia, there were long lines to cast ballots in Muscogee County.

What a difference a week makes.

Tuesday morning at the three advance voting sites in Muscogee County, there were small lines with less than a 20-minute wait. Most folks were in and out in less than 15 minutes.

That’s the new norm – for now.

And the tension has come down with the lines.

One week ago, a woman and man came to blows over breaking in line outside the City Services Center before the polls opened.

Tuesday it was calm and clean.

“We heard of the pushing and shoving and high tempers,” said Mark Lawrence, who has been handing out water and snacks each day outside the City Services Center. “And we have not had that.”

Last Friday, the Trade Center opened as an advance voting site and the pressure immediately came off the City Services Center. An additional site at Shirley B. Winston Park opened Monday. Now, there are three options and little waiting.

On Sunday, the Health Department building on Veterans Parkway and the ice rink at the Civic Center will be open for in-person advance voting. That will end on Oct. 30. On Nov. 3, the General Election Day, 25 local precincts will be open.

Angela Palmer-Gibbons intended to cast her ballot last week when in-person advance voting started in Georgia.

“I drove over there three times and just kept going,” Palmer-Gibbons said.

It was discouraging for the 61-year-old Columbus woman.

“The first day I went they were all the way around the building,” Palmer-Gibbons said. “The second day I went they were in front of the door where you go in for the tag office. The third day was a little shorter, but it was still long for me to stand in.”

The wait Tuesday at lunch time?

“All of 10 minutes,” she said.

It was the same thing an hour earlier at the Trade Center.

“To be honest, I was dreading coming and voting on the precincts because of the lines you see on the news and things like this,” said Columbus voter Allen McMullen. “… This experience was wonderful and I do not hesitate of telling anyone of my experiences at the Trade Center.”

Shirley B. Winston and the Trade Center opened a week earlier than scheduled because of a $210,000 grant from former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said.

Palmer-Gibbson, who took three passes on voting last week because of excessive lines, said she has a message for Schwarzenegger.

“I say thank you so much because it was well needed,” she said. “It is bringing more people out to vote because they don’t want to stand in long lines.”

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