Pipe bursts in Atlanta arena causing 4-hour delay in processing ballots

No ballots were damaged, said the deputy secretary of state.

November 3, 2020, 11:25 PM

Though there have been few reports of widespread issues at the polls, the battleground state of Georgia has been the site of two Election Day snafus.

A pipe burst in State Farm Arena in Atlanta on Tuesday morning, causing a four-hour delay in processing election ballots, according to deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs.

The burst "had no impact on ballots -- not a single ballot was damaged," Fuchs said.

State Farm Arena, the home court of the NBA's Hawks, is the largest ballot processing center in Fulton County, according to Fuchs. Fulton County is Georgia's most populous county.

People line up to cast their ballots during early voting in the presidential elections outside of The Atlanta Hawks' State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Oct. 12, 2020.
Christopher Aluka Berry/Reuters, FILE

Fulton County officials said repairs were made within two hours and that no ballots or equipment were impacted.

As for the timing of counting ballots, county officials said, "there was a brief delay in tabulating absentee ballots while the repairs were being conducted."

"Tonight Fulton County will report results for approximately 86,000 absentee ballots, as well as Election Day and Early Voting results," county officials said.

"As planned, Fulton County will continue to tabulate the remainder of absentee ballots over the next two days," the officials continued. "Fulton County did not anticipate having all absentee ballots processed on Election Day."

Later in the night, Regina Waller, the Fulton County public affairs manager for elections, told ABC News that the election department sent the State Farm Arena absentee ballot counters home at 10:30 p.m. despite earlier intentions to complete processing Tuesday night. Some additional numbers could still come out Tuesday night, but as of now the staff will be back at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Meanwhile, about 37 miles south of Atlanta, all 18 precincts in Spalding County, Georgia, will remain open for an extra two hours after the county reported a "county wide technical issue" Tuesday morning.

After the glitch with the county's poll pads -- which check voters in -- provisional ballots were delivered to every location, according to a statement from the county.

Two election workers talk while processing absentee ballots at State Farm Arena on Nov. 2, 2020, in Atlanta.
Megan Varner/Getty Images, FILE

By the afternoon, eight of the 18 locations had been reset and were "fine," said Gabriel Sterling, the implementations manager at the Georgia Secretary of State Office. Regardless of whether the locations had been reset, "every location has voters voting right now," Sterling said.

"Voting continues, voting continued at the time, and we feel very comfortable and confident about where we are," Sterling said later.

The precinct closing time was extended to 9 p.m. ET following a court order, the Spalding County Board of Commissioners said.

Fuchs told ABC News the extension will not delay Georgia's results.

ABC News' John Santucci, Brandon Baur and Olivia Rubin contributed to this report.

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