This is the day when voters raised on a reverence for democracy realize the utter disregard their leaders hold for that concept. The moment state and local officials around the country get elected, they stop caring about making it easy for their constituents to vote. Some do so deliberately, for partisan reasons, while others just don’t pay attention or decide they have bigger priorities. The result can be seen in the confusion, the breakdowns, and the agonizingly slow lines at thousands of precincts in almost every state.
National: How Faulty and Outdated E-Voting Machines Contributed to Voter Lines and Frustration | ABC News
“By the way, we have to fix that,” President Obama said in his acceptance speech last night. No, he wasn’t referring to a specific economic, social or policy issue. He was referring to the issue of voting lines. Long, long voting lines. Across the nation yesterday, and then subsequently across Twitter and Facebook, U.S. citizens shared frustrations, photos and information about voting lines. The images of the long queues were a dime a dozen, especially when you looked at the #stayinline hashtag on Twitter. People in states like Florida and Ohio waited up to seven hours. In other states, there were shorter, though still-frustrating two- to three-hour waits. Some experts place the blame on high turnout, but many will tell you the culprit is technology – failed and faulty e-voting machine. Gone are the days of pulling the lever. Instead now there are two main voting systems: optical scan paper ballot systems and direct recording electronic systems (DREs). Very few jurisdictions still rely on punch cards and hand-counted paper ballots.
National: Voting-machine glitches: How bad was it on Election Day around the country? | CSMonitor.com
Electronic voting-machine jams, breakdowns, and glitches were strewn across the Election Night landscape, creating long lines when machines simply broke down. In at least one case, a viral YouTube video purported to show a Pennsylvania machine “flipping” a vote cast for President Obama into a vote for Mitt Romney. Vote flipping occurs when an e-voting touch-screen machine is not properly calibrated, so that a vote for Romney or Obama is flipped to the other candidate. While the Pennsylvania glitch was reported and the machine reportedly taken out of service and quickly recalibrated, other flipping was reported by news media accounts in Nevada, Texas, North Carolina, and Ohio.
The Supreme Court announced on Friday that it would take a fresh look at the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the signature legacies of the civil rights movement. Three years ago, the court signaled that part of the law may no longer be needed, and the law’s challengers said the re-election of the nation’s first black president is proof that the nation has moved beyond the racial divisions that gave rise to efforts to protect the integrity of elections in the South. The law “is stuck in a Jim Crow-era time warp,” said Edward P. Blum, director of the Project on Fair Representation, a small legal foundation that helped organize the suit. Civil rights leaders, on the other hand, pointed to the role the law played in the recent election, with courts relying on it to block voter identification requirements and cutbacks on early voting.
As Election Day approaches, county clerks’ offices in 31 states are accepting tens of thousands of electronic absentee ballots from U.S. soldiers and overseas civilians, despite years of warnings from cyber experts that Internet voting is easy prey for hackers. Some of the states made their techno leaps even after word spread of an October 2010 test of an Internet voting product in the nation’s capital, in which a team of University of Michigan computer scientists quickly penetrated the system and directed it to play the school’s fight song. The Michigan team reported that hackers from China and Iran also were on the verge of breaking in. Election watchdogs, distraught over what they fear is a premature plunge into an era of Internet voting, lay most of the blame on an obscure Defense Department unit that beckoned state officials for 20 years, in letters, legislative testimony and at conferences, to consider email voting for more than 1 million troops and civilians living abroad.
First-time voter Andre Murias, 18, arrived at South Kendall Community Church in Country Walk at exactly 7 p.m. Tuesday. He was the last voter in line. Nearly five hours later, shortly before midnight, Murias finally cast his vote for President Obama. He and hundreds of others waited in a line that snaked down the church’s driveway and around the block. “We were surprised that it went around the neighborhood,” said Murias, a student at Miami Dade College. One poll worker, who did not want to be identified, said there were at least 1,000 people waiting to cast their ballot at the church at 7:30 p.m., 30 minutes after the county’s polling places were supposed to have been closed.
Minnesotans have rejected a constitutional amendment that would have required a photo ID before they could vote in future elections. With just less than 99 percent of precincts reporting Wednesday, Nov.7, support for the voter ID amendment was at 46.36 percent. “It’s starting to look like an insurmountable lead for the opposition on this,” said Dan McGrath, chairman of ProtectMyVote.com, just before midnight on Tuesday.
When New Jersey announced over the weekend that it would allow voters displaced by the storm to vote by email or fax, many people were concerned about the possibility of hacking or other vote-tampering. “E-mail voting is insecure because it’s hard to authenticate the voter, the ballots can be intercepted and changed, and the computer servers that store them can be hacked,” Bloomberg reported. Additionally, the plan had provoked confusion among voters, as at first the state said no paper ballot was necessary, and later reneged, saying a mailed-in paper confirmation was also required.
For the head of Libya’s national election commission, the method by which Americans vote is startling in that it depends so much on trust and the good faith of election officials and voters alike. “It’s an incredible system,” said Nuri K. Elabbar, who traveled to the United States along with election officials from more than 60 countries to observe today’s presidential elections as part of a program run by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). Your humble Cable guy visited polling places with some of the international officials this morning. Most of them agreed that in their countries, such an open voting system simply would not work.
U.S. President Barack Obama won re-election Tuesday night, topping 270 electoral votes to defeat Republican challenger Mitt Romney just after 11 p.m. yesterday. Romney held a small lead in the battleground state of Virginia, but most election observers said he had to win both Florida and Ohio, as well as Virginia, to beat Obama. Just after 11 p.m., Ohio was called for Obama and those electoral votes effectively sealed the election’s outcome. Obama also held a slim lead in Florida. The Republican Party was projected to retain control of the U.S. House of Representatives, according to CNN and other news reports, but it appeared that Democrats will remain a slim majority in the Senate.
Specialty Group Inc. of Knoxville, Tenn., has a peculiar specialty: political anonymity. The company filed for incorporation in late September. Within a few weeks, it had donated nearly $5.3 million to FreedomWorks for America, a conservative super PAC allied with former House majority leader Dick Armey. What is Specialty Group? Where does its money come from? From the public record, it’s impossible to tell. The Center for Public Integrity and the Center for Responsive Politics reported that the company’s registered agent is a Knoxville man, William S. Rose Jr.After news reports about the donation, Rose issued a statement describing Specialty as his investment firm, detailing his gripes with President Obama and assailing “prying media who seem hellbent on asking a private citizen about private facts.” He declined to answer questions about the source of the funds and described Specialty’s business as “my family secret.” And here is the most disturbing thing about the Specialty contributions: By the degraded standards of the 2012 campaign, they are a model of transparency.
Miami-Dade will not report full election results until Wednesday, election supervisors said Tuesday night, as dozens of polls remained open four hours after closing time. Lines were so long in some polling places, that the last voter did not leave the West Kendall Regional Libary until a few minutes after 1 A.M. At 10:50 p.m., 90 percent of the precincts had closed in Miami-Dade. That meant that at least 80 precincts were still plagued by lines four hours after the polls closed, as people waited six hours or longer to cast their ballots. Adding to the local election woes were the 18,000 absentee ballots that came in on Tuesday. Those had yet to be processed and were not expected to be counted until Wednesday, according to Deputy Supervisor Christina White.
Minnesota voters on Tuesday turned back a proposed constitutional amendment to require a photo ID for voting, a measure that had once been seen as a likely winner. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, the amendment had 1,344,758 “yes” votes, or 46 percent. That was short of the 50 percent or greater total necessary for passage. “No” votes totaled 1,522,860, or 52 percent, with blank ballots – which count as “no” votes” – totaling 41,785, or 1 percent. The Minnesota vote went against a trend in other states to approve voter ID.
Democrat Jim Graves, declared the loser of the 6th Congressional District race against Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, tweeted early Wednesday that a recount is likely. “See you in a few hours,” he said. Graves was trailing Bachmann by about 3,900 votes with 99 percent of precincts reporting on Wednesday morning. The Associated Press called the race for Bachmann just before 4 a.m.
The election will last until Friday — at least for some voters in New Jersey. State officials announced Tuesday afternoon that they will continue to accept email and fax ballots through Friday night, after election supervisors there reported they were overwhelmed by requests from voters displaced by Hurricane Sandy. The state is seen as securely enough in Obama’s column that many expect that he’ll be able to be called as the winner of the state’s electoral votes nonetheless. Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) announced last Saturday that voters affected by the storm could use an email ballot process set up for overseas voters. However, many voters reported this week that email boxes designated to receive the ballots were already full and not able to accept any more ballots. In addition, some voters said they’d gotten no response to their emailed requests for ballots.
Displaced victims of the storm-ravaged New Jersey coastline faced a new challenge on Tuesday, as their attempts to vote in person, by email, and by fax failed. New Jersey, at the last minute and prompted by the displacement of residents from superstorm Sandy, was the first state to ever allow electronic voting for a significant portion of its population. Other states have allowed some electronic voting for military members or overseas residents in the past. The effort in New Jersey on Tuesday, however, showed the difficulties of maintaining an orderly and efficient election when phone lines and inboxes are overwhelmed with voter requests.
As if voting by e-mail weren’t insecure enough, an election official in New Jersey has now instructed citizens who can’t get their ballots through to swamped government e-mail servers to send them instead to his personal Hotmail account, according to BuzzFeed. You read that right: Hotmail. For voting. The vote-by-e-mail idea came about as a result of the destruction leveled on New Jersey by Hurricane Sandy, and the concept by itself has some merit as a what-else-are-you-going-to-do emergency measure in a disaster zone.
A representative from the nonpartisan Election Protection Coalition told Roll Call this afternoon that there were reports of “massive confusion” in Pennsylvania, voting-machine problems in Ohio, long lines in southern Virginia, technical problems in Texas and difficulties in New Jersey. Tanya House, one of the attorneys working with the group, said there are reports that voters in Pennsylvania are showing up at the polls and being told they need photo identification, even though a recent court ruling delayed implementation of the commonwealth’s new voter ID law until after Election Day. Voters there were also receiving mailings as late as Friday that referenced the need for a photo ID. “Massive confusion in Pennsylvania,” House said. “The state did not do a good job about informing people that they do not have to show photo ID in order to vote. Poll workers are telling them they do and people are being turned away.”
Republican Rep. Rick Berg said he will not concede the North Dakota Senate race to Democrat Heidi Heitkamp until the state completes its recount process, which would be next Tuesday. “This is a very close election, which is why North Dakota has a process in place to properly count each ballot and officially certify the result. This canvassing process will certify the election and provide an official result. The Berg for Senate campaign will await the results of the canvassing process before making any other announcements regarding the status of the election,” said Berg spokesman Chris Van Guilder in a release issued late Tuesday night.
With all precincts reporting, Democrat Heidi Heitkamp is leading Republican Rep. Rick Berg by only 3,000 votes in the North Dakota Senate race. Heitkamp has 160,752 votes in the initial count, while Berg has 157,758. The close margin between the candidates allows for a recount, and Berg has already vowed not to concede the race until one is completed.
Pennsylvania: Registered Philadelphia voters required to cast provisional ballots in large numbers | Philadelphia City Paper
The names of registered Philadelphia voters are not showing up on voter rolls and poll workers are instructing them to vote using provisional ballots, according to voters and poll workers in West and North Philadelphia. Provisional ballots, if they are counted, are not counted until up to seven days after the election. “We think it’s a real concern,” said a staffer at The Committee of Seventy, which monitors elections in Philadelphia. Voter ID, he says, is “not the central problem in Philadelphia today: [it’s] the messy administration of this election. The phones are just ringing off the hook. We’re fielding calls about people who are not in the polling books.”
As a key battleground in this year’s presidential election, Ohio has already seen its share of voting-related litigation. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has already weighed in with several rulings on the counting of provisional ballots and on expanded early voting hours. But there is another important legal issue peculiar to Ohio that hasn’t gotten much attention so far, though it will be a significant factor should the state’s election tally spark litigation. Under a little-noticed provision of Ohio law, federal election results cannot be challenged in state court.
Voters across South Carolina turned out in droves in Tuesday’s presidential election, but many waited hours to cast ballots, and in some places, they said the wait resulted from a lack of voting machines or malfunctioning machines.
The S.C. Election Commission reported heavy turnout, with sporadic problems across the state. But the most complaints about the time it took to vote came from Richland County, said Chris Whitmire, a spokesman for the election commission. Many Richland County voters spent up to seven hours in line at precincts that they said didn’t have enough working voting machines to handle the crush of people. Voters at some Richland County precincts were still in line after polls closed at 7 p.m., some reportedly as late as 9 or 10 p.m.