When Mostafa Zamanian voted last week in Shorewood Hills, Wis., he got lucky: He was in the short line. “Of 19 in hallway, only two of us were N-Z and didn’t have to wait to vote,” he tweeted. Like other places, Mr. Zamanian’s precinct split up voters based on their last names. Those beginning with A to M were steered one way, while those beginning with N to Z were directed elsewhere. Intuitively, that makes sense: It’s the midpoint of the alphabet—so you end up with two equal queues, right? Wrong. In the U.S., surnames are not evenly distributed, and in most places, it’s not even close.Full Article: A Long Wait to Vote? Odds Are, You Were in the A-to-M Line - WSJ.
While the midterm elections appear to have avoided any major problems with foreign interference, voters and poll monitoring groups across the country reported hours-long lines, unexpected delays in opening polling places, and technical issues with voting machines. “We received reports quite quickly on election day of a number of polling sites in Harris County, which is the home of Houston, of polling sites not only not being open at 7 a.m. but of significant delays,” says James Slattery, senior staff attorney at the Texas Civil Rights Project, which won a court order keeping polls open late at locations with delayed openings. … Experts say it’s not surprising that technical problems popped up at polling places—after all, many states and local jurisdictions are still running systems purchased under the federal Help America Vote Act, a law passed by Congress in 2002 in wake of the disputed 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore.Full Article: Aging Machines Will Mean More Long Lines To Vote, Experts Say.
Election experts have long warned about the nation’s aging fleet of voting equipment. This week’s elections underscored just how badly upgrades are needed. Across the country, reports poured in Tuesday amid heavy voter turnout of equipment failing or malfunctioning, triggering frustration among voters and long lines at polling places. Scanners used to record ballots broke down in New York City. Voting machines stalled or stopped working in Detroit. Electronic poll books used to check in voters failed in Georgia. Machines failed to read ballots in Wake County, North Carolina, as officials blamed humidity and lengthy ballots. Those problems followed a busy early voting period that revealed other concerns, including machines that altered voters’ choices in Texas, North Carolina and Georgia.Full Article: Midterm Voting Exposes Growing Problem of Aging Machines - The New York Times.
National: Broken machines, rejected ballots and long lines: voting problems emerge as Americans go to the polls. | The Washington Post
Civil rights groups and election officials fielded thousands of reports of voting irregularities across the country Tuesday, with voters complaining of broken machines, long lines and untrained poll workers improperly challenging Americans’ right to vote. The loudest of those complaints came from Georgia, where issues of race, ballot access and election fairness have fueled an acrimonious governor’s contest between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp. Abrams, a former state lawmaker, would be the nation’s first black female governor, while Kemp, the secretary of state, who oversees elections, has faced accusations of trying to suppress the minority vote. In one downtown Atlanta precinct, voters waited three hours to cast ballots after local election officials initially sent only three voting machines to serve more than 3,000 registered voters. In suburban Gwinnett County, the wait surpassed four hours as election officials opened the polls only to discover that their voting machines were not working at all, voters said.Full Article: Broken machines, rejected ballots and long lines: voting problems emerge as Americans go to the polls. - The Washington Post.
David Weiner counts himself lucky. Sure, he waited an hour to vote at the Brooklyn Public Library along with, he estimates, several hundred other New Yorkers Tuesday afternoon. But, hey, at least he arrived when the last ballot scanner officially broke. That meant he could just fill out his ballot and shove it in a box. The people in line in front of him, the ones who’d been waiting to use that last ballot scanner, said they’d been in line for twice as long. “The line snaked all the way around the lobby of the public library, which is extremely unusual,” says Weiner, a Brooklyn resident who runs a cannabis media company and has been voting at the same location for three years. “I took that as enthusiasm for voting, but I was sorely mistaken.” Instead, Weiner was just one of a still-unknown number of Americans who watched their country’s voting technology break down right in front of their eyes on Tuesday. Machine malfunctions caused hours-long lines and reports of voters giving up and going home at polling stations across the country. On an already tense Election Day, these technical issues exacerbated voters’ anxieties and concerns about voter suppression. And it’s true that in past election cycles, long lines have disproportionately impacted communities of color.Full Article: Midterm Elections 2018: Voting Machine Meltdowns Are Normal—That’s the Problem | WIRED.
From closed polling sites to malfunctioning machines, Election Day brought frustration for some voters in contests shadowed by questions about the security and fairness of the electoral system. In Gwinnett County, Ga., four precincts — out of 156 — suffered prolonged technical delays, while some voting machines in South Carolina lacked power or the devices needed to activate them. There was also some confusion in Allegheny County, Pa., which includes Pittsburgh, where at least four polling places were changed in the last two days. Voters who went to a polling place in Chandler, Ariz., a Phoenix suburb, found the doors locked and a legal notice announcing that the building had been closed overnight for failure to pay rent. (Officials later reopened the location.) In Houston, a worker was removed from a polling site and faced an assault charge amid a racially charged dispute with a voter, The Houston Chronicle reported.Full Article: Voting Problems Surface as Americans Go to the Polls - The New York Times.
Voting rights activists successfully sued Georgia and Texas asking them to extend voting hours in some counties after problems with voting machines led to delays and long lines thanks to a big turnout in U.S. elections on Tuesday. A suit by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Arizona failed, the group said. But it won an extension in Fulton County, Georgia, one county in about a dozen U.S. states that experienced delays, largely in sites still using aging voting machines overwhelmed by the volume of voters, according to officials and rights groups. Other Georgia polling places extended hours without facing lawsuits. Two Texas civil rights groups won a lawsuit to secure longer voting hours in Harris County, Texas, after polling locations in the Houston area opened late due to equipment glitches and other issues. In Ohio, a court ordered the state to provide ballots to voters who were being held in pretrial detention in county jails, following a lawsuit filed the same day by two public interest groups.Full Article: Voter advocates sue over delays at polling sites | Reuters.
On a potentially record-setting Election Day in Michigan, problems at the polls in metro Detroit popped up sporadically, leaving some voters waiting in line for more than an hour while others left altogether. Several would-be voters in Redford Township did not stay Tuesday morning while the lone voting machine at Pierce Middle School was being fixed, voter Rex Nagy said. “It stinks, it really does. So many people were upset,” Nagy said. In Detroit, voting equipment was not ready when the polls opened at Martin Luther King Jr. High School because a custodian did not know where the equipment was located, city elections director Daniel Baxter confirmed in a text message.Full Article: Problems at Michigan polls persist as voter turnout ramps up.
Maldives: Long lines, fainting and shoving: Maldives voting proves slow-going | Maldives Independent
People reported waiting up to six hours to cast their vote in the Maldives presidential election Sunday, as long lines persisted at polling stations more than halfway through the day. There are about 262,000 eligible voters. Elections Commission member Ahmed Akram told the Maldives Independent that turnout had reached 38 percent by noon. Polls close in less than an hour, but queues stretched outside most schools where polling stations were set up in the capital. In Kuala Lumpur people fainted while waiting, leaving others in the queue to manage the line and arrange for drinking water. Queues were said to extend from the 10th floor to the ground floor. There are almost 1,900 people registered to vote in Kuala Lumpur, but only one ballot box.Full Article: Long lines, fainting and shoving: Maldives voting proves slow-going – Maldives Independent.
Voters waited in a long line with filled U.S. Senate ballots in hand Tuesday morning after a new voting machine broke down. That left the Frazer United Methodist Church polling place in Montgomery with one working tabulation machine for part of the morning. A poll worker at the site said the crowd was also bigger than expected, which made the problem worse. Workers had fixed the problem before 10 a.m., according to Christopher Turner, the assistant director of elections for Montgomery County. “It’s all brand new equipment (being used) in Montgomery County for the first time,” Turner said. “It’s kind of a shakedown cruise.” But it was far from the only problem on election day in Alabama.Full Article: Machine glitch, ballot confusion cause snags on election day.
In 2009, now Mayor Kasim Reed defeated Mary Norwood by 714 votes in a runoff. Eight years later, with seven candidates polling above 5 percent, the race to become Atlanta’s next mayor may be very close again. But today, there are more public questions about the integrity of the country and Georgia’s voting system, as well as doubts about voter education and whether residents in at least one part of the city will even know how long polling places are open. “This is a race with low voter turnout and a high number of candidates so accuracy is very important,” said mayoral candidate Cathy Woolard. “This race will probably be decided by handfuls of voters.” Last week, Woolard said she was concerned about confusion over how long polls would be open Tuesday in the sections of the city of Atlanta that are in DeKalb County.Full Article: Confusion And Questions Over Voting System Ahead Of Competitive Atlanta Election | 90.1 FM WABE.
Virginia: As Voters Prepare for Virginia Election, Data Helping Reduce Lines | Bipartisan Policy Center
When Virginia voters go to the polls on Tuesday they have a lot to consider when making their selections. But one thing they should not worry about is their experience at the polling place, especially concerns about long lines to cast ballots. More than any other state in the country, Virginia is at the forefront of monitoring polling place lines and finding new ways to improve the voting process in the future. Virginia joined the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Data Collection Project in 2014 and again in 2016 to investigate lines at polling places to resolve any problems in the future. The new data below show that just a small amount of effort is needed to gather information that can be valuable to addressing the problem of long lines at polling places.Full Article: As Voters Prepare for Virginia Election, Data Helping Reduce Lines.
Everyone in the election field knows how important it is to minimize waits at the polls, and in recent years, we’ve seen big advances in using data to help predict and avoid polling place stress. But while there’s a lot of research on overall wait times, there’s little data out there that addresses one critical piece of the puzzle: the amount of time it takes to vote a ballot. For that reason, the Center for Technology and Civic Life is working with software developer Mark Pelczarski to build a tool that will estimate how long it will take voters to mark a ballot based on its contents. Once it’s ready, the tool will be available for free in the Election Toolkit.Full Article: electionlineWeekly.
Long queues were the order of the day as Kenyans took to the polls Tuesday to vote in a hotly contested national election, pitting current president Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party against former prime minister Raila Odinga’s Nasa party. Voters started queueing as early as 2am, according to Caroline Kantai, presiding officer at Moi Avenue Primary School. Polling centres officially opened at 6am. Some centres opened late due to poor weather conditions, the delayed arrival of voting materials and problems with the Kenya Integrated Elections Management Systems (KIEMS), which verify voters’ biometric information. Kantai said some polling stations had problems verifying biometrics because voters’ fingers were sweaty or oily, or because “the machine just failed for one reason or the other”. In cases like these, polling clerks verified voters’ identities manually, using their identification documents.Full Article: Overeager voters, faulty biometrics and arrests as #KenyaDecides - The Daily Vox.
Kenyans on Tuesday voted in large numbers an election that pits President Uhuru Kenyatta against challenger Raila Odinga in this East African economic hub known for its relative, long-term stability as well as the ethnic allegiances that shadow its democracy. Voters formed long lines at many polling stations before dawn, waiting for the chance to cast ballots in the tightly contested race for the presidency as well as for more than 1,800 elected positions, including governors, legislative representatives and county officials. A key concern was whether Kenya would echo its 2013 election, a mostly peaceful affair despite opposition allegations of vote-tampering, or the 2007 election, which led to violence fueled by ethnic divisions that killed more than 1,000 people.Full Article: Kenyans choose next president in fiercely contested vote | Boston Herald.
Nearly 9 million Texans headed to the polls in November to weigh in on the fierce battle for the White House — and many stumbled upon roadblocks while trying to cast their votes. Texas voters faced long lines, equipment glitches, intimidation — and confusion over the state’s Voter ID law and whether photo IDs were still required — according to a new report, Texas Election Protection 2016. “Unfortunately, through the state, voters faced numerous obstacles that complicated the process,” said Beth Stevens, voting rights director at the Texas Civil Rights Project that compiled the report. “We heard directly from thousands of voters about the barriers they faced in our electoral system. “Texans deserved better.”Full Article: Texans had problems voting in presidential election | Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Utah: After unusual election, lawmakers draft pile of bills seeking to make changes | The Salt Lake Tribune
After one of the most unusual elections in history, Utah legislators are busy drafting numerous bills seeking to make changes in election law. Proposals include a variety of schemes to help shorten voting lines — which were up to four-hours long this year. Some lawmakers want to force winners to achieve a majority of the vote, not just a plurality. And some want to ensure that, unlike this year, the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote wins the election. … Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, stood in line for more than two hours to vote at Hunter Library on Election Day. Others lined up there for up to four hours. “What really drives me crazy is how many people I saw that simply turned around and went home when they saw those lines,” Thatcher says.Full Article: After unusual election, lawmakers draft pile of bills seeking to make changes | The Salt Lake Tribune.
Rhode Island: Pawtucket officials demand answers after ‘historic failure’ on Election Day | The Valley Breeze
City officials say they won’t soon forget the “historic failure” of the 2016 election in Pawtucket, saying they don’t want to see the interminable lines and disenfranchisement of voters ever again. The City Council is asking the Rhode Island Secretary of State and Board of Elections for an explanation of what happened in Pawtucket, which saw the worst of the problems across the state on voting day. Councilor Mark Wildenhain said the problems were consistent all day, with people waiting five minutes to vote and then two hours or more to get that vote registered by putting it through the machine. In some polling locations, residents ripped up their ballots and left, he said. Police nearly needed to break up a fistfight at the St. Cecilia Church polling place. … Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea said in a statement Monday that “the delays experienced in Pawtucket on election day were unacceptable.”Full Article: Officials demand answers after ‘historic failure’ on Election Day | The Valley Breeze.
The county official who took the blame for hours-long lines that plagued this year’s presidential primary in Arizona was dumped from office amid widespread frustration among voters over the bungled election. Republican Helen Purcell conceded on Tuesday to Democrat Adrian Fontes in the Maricopa County recorder’s race. The county was still tallying ballots but she was nearly 13,000 votes behind when she acknowledged the loss. Purcell, 81, was first elected in 1988 and never before challenged for re-election while serving seven four-year terms as county recorder. Her decision to cut the number of polling places for the March election caused voters to wait more than five hours to cast their ballots. Purcell and Secretary of State Michele Reagan were blamed for the foul-up, but Purcell became the most public face for the decision.Full Article: Phoenix election official dumped for long voter lines | Albuquerque Journal.
There were long lines at some polling places on Election Day, and hundreds of voters waited for hours, particularly in Baltimore County. But there is no evidence of a partisan conspiracy, as some Republicans believed, just a shortage of scanners. Before the last voters cast ballots after 10 p.m. on Election Day, Maryland Republican Party Executive Director Joe Cluster was up in arms over the long waits that were exasperating some voters throughout the state. … “I’m concerned about the distribution of machines,” Cluster said. “Election Day was a fiasco! There was probably one [scanner] at every polling place. We definitely need more. The Board of Elections needs to make sure we find the money to put more scanners in the polling precincts.”Full Article: Scanner shortage caused lines and long waits Election Day | MarylandReporter.com.