As Polls Begin to Close, Few Problems Reported
(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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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