Tens of millions of Americans who descended on the polls Tuesday faced hours-long lines, sporadic equipment failures and confusion about polling places — but little of the violence or vigilantism that had been feared. Problems cropped up in Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and other key battleground states that would decide whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump wins the presidency. Most involved election administration issues that have plagued the polls for decades, however, rather than incidents of voter fraud or intimidation fueled by Trump’s warning of a “rigged” election. A coalition of more than 100 civil rights and voting rights groups running a national election protection hotline reported that 40% of its calls came from African American and Hispanic communities, a possible indication that minority voters were being targeted. The majority of complaints came from California, New York, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, with Florida seeing particularly high levels of voter misinformation. “There is tremendous disruption at the polls today,” said Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “This election may be the most chaotic election … in the last 50 years.”
For all of the ways the 2016 presidential election was extraordinary – particularly Donald Trump’s repeated assertion that the vote was being “rigged” – the actual balloting on Tuesday was largely without serious incident. “Despite expectations this would be an unusual election, this election largely played out as previous presidential elections,” said David Becker, the executive director of the Center for Election Innovation & Research. “Sporadic problems here and there, but election officials were remarkably well-prepared, and this resulted in a largely smooth Election Day.” There were problems with voting equipment in counties from New York to California, and scattered reports of voter intimidation. But for the most part, the fears that a bitterly contested race would translate into a chaotic Election Day were unrealized.
Voters around the country faced long lines, occasional broken machines and some hot tempers Tuesday, but as the polls closed from one coast to the other, there were no signs of the large-scale fraud, intimidation or hacking some had feared. The scattered problems mostly involved the sort of glitches that arise in every election, including discrepancies in the voter rolls, with no indications of any snags big enough to meaningfully alter the vote count. “The biggest surprise is how uneventful things have been with this large a turnout,” said Illinois State Board of Elections spokesman Jim Tenuto. “Everyone was expecting more problems than this — and nothing.”
During this year’s voting, the vast majority of states used outdated voting machines perilously close to the end of their projected lifespan. Back in April, we warned that 42 states use machines that are at least a decade old. Given that a high percentage of these machines have projected lifespans of between 10 and 15 years, we argued something needs to be done soon to prevent a real crisis. We also pointed out, though, that the fact that the machines are aging does not mean they will all break down at once. Fortunately, on Election Day, most Americans were able to vote on machines that functioned properly, though in a few areas like Detroit, problems were widespread. In addition, election officials were well-prepared. Keenly aware of the potential problems associated with using antiquated equipment during a high-turnout election, they were generally able to keep voting going smoothly when problems did arise. Still, the failures that we did see serve as a warning of how bad things could get if we don’t replace our aging voting equipment soon. In a 2010 report, one state’s Department of Legislative Services found that the “nature and frequency of equipment failure beyond the manufacturer’s life expectancy cannot be predicted.” As machines approach the 15-year mark, we are likely to see progressively worse and more frequent problems.
Although Donald Trump liked to claim the election was rigged against him, an anonymous hacker on 4chan may have literally helped rig the election against Hillary Clinton. On Sunday night, a post 4chan’s /pol/ board declared that it would perform a denial-of-service attack on any tools used by the Clinton campaign using a Mirai botnet code. This was not the first time 4chan had intervened in the campaign to help Trump and hurt Clinton, most notably in October when a 4channer used the password to John Podesta’s iPhone (as published by WikiLeaks) to locate and remotely wipe the device. “List targets here that if taken out could harm Clinton’s chances of winning and I will pounce on them like a wild animal,” the post, written by someone dubbed Sparky, proclaimed. “Not sleeping until after this election is over.”
Of all the costs associated with the 2016 presidential election, perhaps none are bigger than the prices we’ve all paid in terms of the loss of dignity and common decency, as well as respect for our political process. Of course, there are other, more quantifiable costs, such as the $300+ million spent by candidates who ultimately lost in the primaries, and billions spent by the campaigns for the two major party winners, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. But what about the expenses rung up while actually holding the elections? Here’s a look at some of the numbers that give an indication of the costs incurred by American businesses, local governments, and voters themselves every Election Day.
1-3 Number of hours that employers are required by law to give workers off in order to vote in the majority of states, according to info gathered by HRLegalist.com. The rules vary widely, though, and often only require time off if the local polls are not open before or after the worker’s shift. Sometimes the employee must give advance notice too: In New York, for example, workers who give the boss a heads up are entitled to up to two hours off work, paid, if the polls aren’t open for at least four hours before or after your shift. The requirement is hardly universal, mind you. There are no voter leave laws in Washington, D.C., and 19 states.
On Tuesday, for the first time in more than 50 years, Americans went to the polls to elect a president without a fully functioning Voting Rights Act — thanks to an insidious decision by the Supreme Court in 2013. Consider what has been happening in North Carolina, a battleground state with a history of racial discrimination in voting. Republican lawmakers and officials have gone to remarkable lengths to drive down turnout among black voters, who disproportionately favor Democrats. Among other things, they cut early voting hours and Sunday voting, and closed polling places in minority communities, despite significant public opposition. Even after a federal appeals court struck down the state’s outrageous voter-suppression law in July, saying that it targeted black voters “with almost surgical precision,” officials were scheming to work around it. On Monday, the state’s Republican Party issued a news release boasting that cutbacks in early voting hours reduced black turnout by 8.5 percent below 2012 levels, even as the number of white early voters increased by 22.5 percent.
Donald Trump clinched the presidency by securing victories in two critical swing states: Wisconsin and North Carolina. In Wisconsin, Trump won by about 3 percentage points; in North Carolina, 4. It is, of course, impossible to know what factors contributed to Trump’s victories in these states. But it is certainly worth noting that each engaged in extensive and carefully coordinated voter suppression in the years preceding the election. In Wisconsin, the Republican-dominated Legislature passed a series of “reforms” designed to suppress the votes of minorities and college students. The Legislature slashed early voting, especially in minority communities, and passed draconian new voter ID requirements that effectively disenfranchised many underprivileged black voters. One federal judge found that the Legislature had explicitly targeted certain black people on the basis of race and attempted to suppress their votes. But an appeals court pushed back against several district court rulings softening the law, leaving much of it in place for the 2016 election. As a result, many people were unable to obtain necessary identification documents and cast ballots in Wisconsin this year.
Maine: Approval looks likely for initiative to change how Maine candidates are elected | The Portland Press Herald
Maine has become the first state in the nation to change the way voters elect candidates to Congress, the Legislature and the governor’s office. With 93 percent of ballots counted, Question 5, which could make Maine the first state to pick statewide candidates with a ranking system, was leading with 52 percent to 48 percent support, a margin of nearly 29,000 votes. In ranked-choice voting, voters rank candidates in order of preference. If no candidate has more than 50 percent of the top votes cast after the first tally, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. Voters who chose the eliminated candidate have their ballots added to the totals of their second-ranked candidate and the ballots are retabulated. The process continues until one candidate has a majority of votes and is declared the winner. Critics of the change, including Gov. Paul LePage, said it violates the Maine Constitution, which calls for election winners to be chosen by a plurality of the vote.
Tens of thousands of uncounted provisional ballots could decide North Carolina’s governor’s race, some which wouldn’t have been counted if the courts had upheld a Republican-backed law that limited voting access. With nearly 4.7 million ballots cast, GOP Gov. Pat McCrory trailed Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper by about 5,000 votes — even though Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr and Donald Trump secured victories by comfortable margins. McCrory was dogged throughout the campaign by his support for a law limiting LGBT rights — a prime example, according to Democrats, of the state’s rightward shift under his watch. Cooper had declared victory, though the race remained too close to call Wednesday. County boards are supposed to decide in the next several days which mailed absentee ballots and provisional votes cast during early voting or on Election Day should be added to the race totals. The trailing candidate could then ask for a recount.
Michael Diaz went to vote at Our Lady of Victory Church Hall in Tannersville Election day morning. Like so many, he had registered to vote through the Department of Motor Vehicles when he applied for a driver’s license. Diaz was told he wasn’t registered at the sign-in desk, and wouldn’t be able to vote. Instead, he was directed to a second desk where he was able to register, but told he wouldn’t be able to vote until the next election. “They were telling me they’ve been having these problems all morning,” Diaz said of the poll workers he spoke with. His situation does not seem to be isolated. “I’ve received some calls from people who have registered through their driver’s renewals and it didn’t go through,” said Pennsylvania Department of State’s Sandy Dekyi, who was fielding complaints from voters. “They are aware of the situation in Harrisburg.”
Vermont election officials reported a mostly smooth election on Tuesday, but acknowledged at least a dozen complaints from city and town clerks regarding vote counting machines. “The latest I heard I think we had 12 (complaints),” Will Senning, Vermont’s director of elections, told Vermont Watchdog Tuesday afternoon. AccuVote-OS machines have been the digital ballot counters of choice for more than a decade in New England states. About 135 towns in Vermont use the machines to tally election results from paper ballots. While the standalone units are generally considered safe because they don’t connect to the Internet, computer security experts say they are vulnerable to hackers through the machines’ detachable memory cards. Those cards are managed by a single private company, LHS Associates, of Salem, N.H.
Bulgaria: Presidential run-off to determine fate of government By Elena Lalova and Boris Babic | Europe Online
Bulgarians will elect their new president in a run-off vote Sunday and, at least according to a modified promise from Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, the fate of the government. Ahead of the November 6 first-round vote, Borisov said that he will resign, probably triggering snap elections halfway through his 4-year term, if the nominee of his conservative GERB party, Tsetska Tsacheva, does not win the most votes. Tsacheva did not, as she surprisingly came in second, behind reserve General Rumen Radev, a non-affiliate backed by the opposition Socialist Party. He collected 25.44 and she 21.96 per cent of the votes.
Canada’s immigration website crashed Tuesday night, leading to speculation that it was caused by Americans who were distraught by the election of Republican Donald Trump. As of Wednesday morning, there was no official comment from Canada’s citizenship and immigration officials. But are that many Americans really thinking about leaving the country under a Trump presidency? Some wonder. “It could just be an extraordinary coincidence,” Prof Alan Woodward from the University of Surrey told the BBC. There is some evidence, however that the crash could have been caused by worried Americans.
Ghana’s electoral commission has qualified seven presidential candidates for the national election on December 7. The successful candidates — six representing political parties and one independent — took part in a drawing late Wednesday in the capital, Accra, to determine their positions on the ballot. They will be listed by party affiliation in this order on voters’ ballots: Convention People’s Party (CPP), National Democratic Party (NDP), National Democratic Congress (NDC), Progressive People’s Party (PPP), New Patriotic Party (NPP), People’s National Convention (PNC) and independent (non-party) candidate Jacob Osei Yeboah. The electoral commission earlier had disqualified several candidates for failing to comply with all registration requirements for the election, but those rulings were challenged in court by the PPP and NDP, among others. A court ruling ordered the commission to allow disqualified candidates time to correct errors in their nomination documents.