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As Polls Begin to Close, Few Problems Reported

POSTED: 06:40 PM ET, 11/ 4/2008 by Derek Kravitz

(Updated at 6:40 p.m.)

Reports of voting problems are still trickling in as roughly 100 million voters head to the polls. But, save for a few hot spots across the country, voting problems have not been heavily reported. A quick look at key states on our Election Day watchlist:

VIRGINIA

Hackers broke into George Mason University's e-mail system, sending students a forged message from the school's provost early this morning stating that Election Day had been moved to Nov. 5 (although most students interview by The Post said they didn't fall for it).

Seven hours later, students, faculty and staff received another message, this time from the real provost, who blamed the e-mail hoax on a compromise of the school's e-mail system. The FBI is investigating but the e-mail was apparently routed through wiredforchange.com, a company that provides e-mail and fund-raising services to Democratic and progressive candidates. The company told Security Fix a German spammer was likely responsible.

A federal judge ordered election officials in Virginia to preserve late-arriving absentee ballots, including ones from military personnel overseas, that Sen. John McCain's campaign claims should be counted. The judge ruled to keep the ballots until Nov. 10, The Associated Press reported.

But the big story in Virginia so far has been long lines and a host of voting machine problems, according to watchdog groups and elections officials across the state. Election Protection has called for the state to extend poll times to 9 p.m.; a federal judge refused to issue a similar order earlier this week.

Virginia officials acknowledged that one Chesapeake precinct had as many as 1,000 people standing in line, accounting for 50 percent of that polling place's voters. officials also said that a duffel bag used to transport ballots from a Hampton polling place was approved, despite objections from GOP party officials.

But Susan Pollard, the spokeswoman for the state Board of Election, said thousands of voters weren't turned away from Virginia polls; malfunctioning optical scanners did end up working and reports of deceptive practices around Virginia Tech were false.

Other reported issues included long lines and paper jams in Hampton; malfunctioning machines and long lines in Roanoke; and long waits and tempermental machines in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach.

Voting rights advocates have raised questions about whether Virginia has enough machines to handle the record turnout expected today. The minimum standard requirement is one machine for every 750 voters, compared to one for every 200 voters in Maryland.

OHIO

New voters in Ohio who are not used to paper ballots might be incorrectly filling in the bubble next to their candidate and filling in his or her name in the write-in section. Such ballots would be disqualified as an "over-vote." Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has asked that the local Boards of Election in each of Ohio's 88 counties go back through all the votes in every machine and find the "double-bubble ballots," try to determine voter intent and count the votes, National Public Radio reports.

Elections officials in Columbus are downplaying reports of widespread problems in Franklin County with touch-screen voting machines, the Columbus Dispatch reports, saying most problems are related to setting up certain machines.

Voting in Cleveland and its surrounding suburbs is going smoothly, elections officials say. As of 10 a.m., the board had received reports of 25 problems with ballot scanners across the county; poll workers fixed 20 of the machines and replaced five others. Of the more than 1,400 precincts in Cuyahoga County, only three were not open for voting at 6:30 a.m. The others opened up within minutes. Officials reported that just 2 percent of nearly 8,600 poll workers were M.I.A., compared with an absence rate of around 20 percent in 2006. Election Protection was investigating reports of "general confusion and mechanical malfunctions" in Cleveland this morning.

FLORIDA

Clerks in at least three precincts in Tampa-St. Petersburg failed to hand out the second page of ballots, leaving voters unable to vote on all the measures. Elections officials there say one clerk has already been replaced, and are working to figure out what to do with the other two sites, the Tampa Tribune reports.

Broken voting machines and "inept" poll workers were reported across Florida, including Hillsborough, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, according to Election Protection.

But observers stationed around Miami-Dade and Broward "described the pace as heavy but steady, with few glitches and no massive lines reported," according to the Miami Herald.

Similar problems were reported in Palm Beach County, where some machines were not accepting ballots because voters had not filled out the second page, according to The Associated Press. However, poll workers reported relatively few problems across the state.

By Derek Kravitz |  November 4, 2008; 6:40 PM ET Election 2008
Previous: GOP Watcher Alleges Panther Intimidation | Next: Camera Wielding Voters May Break Law

Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



That item on VA's polls is incorrect: the normal closing time is already 7pm.

Anyone who is already standing in line at 7 p.m., when the polls are scheduled to close, can vote, regardless of how long the lines are.

More info:

http://www.sbe.virginia.gov/cms/
http://www.sbe.virginia.gov/cms/index.html

Posted by: owl1 | November 4, 2008 2:44 PM

Why aren't major news outlets reporting voter intimidation in Philadelphia by Black Panthers? Scared to admit that blacks are trying to intimidate whites, aren't you? Your bias is showing, you filthy liberal elitists. I hope you enjoy it when they riot--it's what they do.

Posted by: goku234 | November 4, 2008 3:47 PM

Why are Republicans so frightened of free and fair elections?

Maybe it's time for democracy?

Posted by: yakmon | November 4, 2008 4:06 PM

"Why aren't major news outlets reporting voter intimidation in Philadelphia by Black Panthers?"

For one thing, the reports aren't credible enough to meet the necessary standards for journalistic integrity, and for another thing, there is no evidence that the two guys wearing black in Philadelphia are in any way associated with "The Black Panther" organization.

One crazy guy with a night stick, who *was* removed by police, does not make a radical movement.

And if you want major media coverage, what media outlet is bigger than Fox News?

http://www.myfoxphilly.com/myfox/pages/News/Detail?contentId=7788840&version=2&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=TSTY&pageId=3.2.1

Coverage enough for you? Or do you want Pennsylvania to call off the election because, OMG, some crazy guy wore black fatigues and had a stick? Unlikely that you'll get your wish, but good luck with that.

Posted by: jmcgill1 | November 4, 2008 4:07 PM

"two men wearing Black Panthers apparel"

What is this a new line of clothing?

Fox "news"... what a joke..... ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh are you frightened yet?

Posted by: yakmon | November 4, 2008 4:20 PM

Two things stand out about this election. One, how low the "democratic" has fallen in morality, two, how the press shamelessly parrots the democrats' lines.
Case in point - One of America's core beliefs is the right to the secret ballot. The democrats totally support the unionists recent and current attempts to ELIMINATE the secret ballot, which would give them "Big Brother" power over their members, allowing intimidation, harassment, and recriminations. Have you heard ANY democrat or "news" reporter speak out against this blatant attempt to curtail freedom in America (or "Rev." Wright, Ayers, Rezko, "Redistributing the Wealth", etc.?) No, and you WON'T! The unions and the democrats are in bed together, along with their press groupies! They HATE freedom, they LOVE only the power to CONTROL. If you vote for Obama, you're voting AGAINST the secret ballot, AGAINST one more of our traditional American freedoms! One step closer to one-party Socialism!

Posted by: lightnin001 | November 4, 2008 4:24 PM

Florida, Ohio and Virginia are suspect. Funny they are all very key states, the Repubs are at it again. Never see North Dakota or less relevant states having "problems". We are a Banana Republic, not a Democracy.

Posted by: obags | November 4, 2008 4:31 PM

A time to change Election Rules
In my opinion, American election takes almost 50% time of the 4-year term period. It cost too much money and at the end it breaks many hearts. The elected President and members cannot serve their period peacefully and take some meaningful decision during the half of his term. In 2-years, they become lame duck President and members. Also, there are no unified rules of voting among the member States. Some have one day period, others have more than 10 or even 30 days to vote. Also, the clock-time dead line becomes very nasty for the western States.
To make it meaningful and standard, our election rules must be changed from top to bottom. New President should apponit a committee to make our election laws uniform and reasonable for all States. I think all primaries must be ended in 3-months starting from May of the 4th year to July of the 4th year and winner must carry the banner of the party. The President election should have August to November for the election rallies and public meetings. The voting period should be of one week for all the States between 8 am to 8 pm and voting should be closed at same time in all states, not at same clock time.

Posted by: citysoilverizonnet | November 4, 2008 5:10 PM

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