Even as President Barack Obama was about to give his victory speech early Wednesday, dozens of Florida voters waited in line waiting to cast ballots more than five hours after the polls officially closed. Thousands of people in Virginia, Tennessee and elsewhere also had to vote in overtime. Well into the 21st century, it strikes many people as indefensible that the U.S. can’t come up with a more streamlined and less chaotic election system. The president said as much at the very start of his speech. “I want to thank every American who participated in this election, whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time,” Obama said. “By the way, we have to fix that.” Easier said than done. There’s no single entity that sets the rules for voting in this country. Congress and the states enact overall election laws, but in most places it comes down to county or even city officials to actually run them. And those local systems are prone to problems. “We have 10,000 different systems. I wish there were only 50,” said Richard Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California-Irvine and author of “The Voting Wars.”
On Election Day there were examples in California of polls not opening on time because election workers overslept. In Ohio, Florida and elsewhere, there weren’t enough voting machines to accommodate large crowds. In other places the devices malfunctioned or jammed.
At least 19 polling places in Hawaii ran out of paper ballots. In Pennsylvania, local poll workers were giving incorrect information to hundreds of voters about whether they needed photo identification (most of them didn’t).
Some people think the nation’s voting system is getting worse instead of better, and that minorities such as African-Americans and Hispanics tend to bear the greatest brunt of any problems.
“”There is no excuse for elections officials in many states to fumble the ball, to be unprepared for large turnouts,” said Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League and former mayor of New Orleans.
That certainly appeared to be the case in Miami-Dade County, where extremely long lines of voters at the 7 p.m. poll-closing time meant ballots were still being cast well after 1 a.m. Wednesday. Democratic operatives even brought pizza to voters to keep them from giving up. County officials blamed an exceedingly long ballot for the problems.
Voters also endured long lines in several urban Tennessee counties and in South Carolina, where some people waited four hours. In some places in Virginia, the final votes were not cast until after 11 p.m. Long lines were also reported in Rhode Island, Montana and other states.
Full Article: Long lines, confusion reveal flaws in US elections.