After celebration of historic wins by diverse candidates, the other big online trend for the US mid-term election was claims of massive and deliberate vote suppression. Reddit’s top post was an unverified video of apparent errors at a ballot machine in Indiana, while reports of hours-long queues, broken ballot machines and intimidation spread on Twitter and Facebook. A Google map of live election-related searches showed spikes in interest in provisional ballots and long waiting lines across the country. And in Florida, a church that serves as a polling station was criticised after posting a sign discouraging voters to choose Democrats, reported local media. Some reported cases were simple technical errors. In Ohio, one widely-shared claim of vote rigging turned out to be caused by a temporary paper jam.
Arkansas: Ballots mixed in few state elections; some voters hit ID snags at polls | Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Phillips County voters said they cast the wrong ballots in the Marvell mayoral election Tuesday because ballots for people inside and outside the city limits were mixed up. In the highly contested race for Marvell mayor, rural voters received city ballots and city voters got county ballots. The county ballots did not include candidates for mayor. Amanda Moody, who lives in the city, said she went to vote about 8 a.m. and realized after voting that she hadn’t been able to vote for mayor. There are three candidates in this year’s election. “I just hope something gets rectified,” Moody said.
Former Madagascan president Hery Rajaonarimampianina on Thursday alleged that “many voting irregularities” pointed to fraud in this week’s election, heightening fears of protests and a disputed result. Early counting from a small number of polling stations put Rajaonarimampianina in a distant third place behind leading contenders Andry Rajoelina and Marc Ravalomanana, both also former presidents of the Indian Ocean island. “Many voting irregularities and technical anomalies have been detected including an invalid electoral register… intimidation (and) the presence of pre-ticked ballots,” said Rajaonarimampianina, who ruled from 2014 to September 2018.
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.
When Rebekah Burgess Abromovich got in line to vote at the North Henry Street polling center in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, at 9:15 a.m. Tuesday morning, only two electronic voting scanners were working. After an hour of voting, the working machines were down to one. When she finally submitted her ballot more than three hours after arriving, volunteers had begun handing out emergency ballot boxes, which few understood how to use. “I was lucky because I was given the day off to vote,” she said. But other people were bailing. “I was standing next to a teacher who waited for two and a half hours, and then had to leave to teach a class. She said she had to come back.” In polling places in New York City’s five boroughs, similar stories of out-of-commission voting machines echoed: At different points on Tuesday, only one scanner worked at Harry S. Truman High School in the Bronx, Erasmus High School in Brooklyn, and the Brooklyn Public Library polling station, according to NBC New York. At PS 22 in Prospect Heights, all four scanners broke for much of the morning, before getting fixed at 10 am. Elsewhere, ballot sleeves were missing. Lines stretched blocks and hours long.
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.
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.
Texas resident Brianna Smith, who lives in Katy, a Houston suburb, turned up 15 minutes before the polls opened at 7 am to vote this morning (Nov. 6). She wasn’t able to do so for nearly two hours, because of problems with the machine that gives voters their tickets. The lines were “wrapped around the block,” she told Quartz, with some voters forced to leave to go to work or school. Across the country, ballot scanners on the blink and broken voting machines are contributing to massive lines. Experts say that these errors are normal, but the long waits might ultimately prevent some from casting their votes. The problems are being reported across the country, with many tips sent through to the ElectionLand project and verified by Quartz and other news outlets. In New York City, high voter turn-out combined with broken scanners caused mayhem throughout the city at dozens of polling places. At one station in Flatbush, Brooklyn, two of the four voting machines were broken, resulting in a backlog of well over 100 people. A mechanic was later dispatched to repair them, according to a Quartz reporter there.
Americans voting in this year’s midterm elections face a range of obstacles, from long lines to concerns over voter suppression. Some US citizens are also dealing with more unexpected challenges around exercising their right to vote—for instance, the weather. Across Georgia, heavy rain is an added hurdle for voters, though it’s not altogether deterring them. And humidity—a far less visible weather issue—is having an even larger impact. North Carolina’s State Board of Election (SBOE) reports that some precincts in Wake County are having trouble feeding ballots through the voting machines. “Initial reports from county elections offices indicate this issue is caused by high humidity levels,” North Carolina’s SBOE said in a release. Why is a little extra water vapor in the air making such a big difference? Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist with the Washington, DC-based nonprofit Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) and an election technology and cybersecurity expert, explains that ballots are made of a thick stock paper, the specifics of which are determined by voting machine vendors. There are three main makers of voting machines in the US. Local election officials have to work with paper vendors to get paper supplies that will function correctly with the machines and have safety requirements such as watermarks.
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.