An unprecedented outpouring of voters translated into waits of several hours today at polling sites from southeastern Virginia to Arizona, amid sporadic reports around the country of voting machine malfunctions, faulty registration lists and deceptive text-messages and other high-tech efforts to deter young people and minorities from casting ballots. (Washington Post)
By Amanda Zamora | November 4, 2008; 11:34 PM ET | Comments (0)
A spokesman for Ohio's Trumbull County Board of Elections said that most voters preferred using touch-screen voting machines to paper ballots, with one exception: Amish voters. Poll workers in Farmington Township, where a large percentage of Amish residents vote, reported that Amish voters chose to use paper ballots in fairly large quantities. (Youngstown Vindicator)
By Chris Matthews | November 4, 2008; 10:33 PM ET | Comments (0)
California voters faced few problems at the polls today, despite isolated cases of power outages and fear of some ballot shortages in what election officials predict will be a record-breaking turnout. The California secretary of state's office did not receive reports of voting problems besides the power outages in Los Angeles and poll workers who overslept. Record-breaking voter registration pushed officials to add precincts and poll workers and order more ballots to meet the expected demand. (AP)
By Chris Matthews | November 4, 2008; 09:54 PM ET | Comments (0)
While voting on the whole has gone fairly smoothly (despite some long lines and a few glitches), several parts of the country have been dealing with a flurry of last-minute reports of robocalls and robotexts meant to confuse voters.
What exactly is a robocall? It's a pre-recorded campaign message that automatically dials would-be voters. Most are harmless (if not annoying), but others can be distinctively underhanded. Several places reporting robocall problems:
Voters in Florida and New Mexico have reported receiving spam texts on their cellphones telling them that Obama supporters can vote on Wednesday. (Wired)
As voting got under way Tuesday, Cuban-Americans in Florida began receiving robocalls telling them former Cuban president Fidel Castro supported Barack Obama and urging them to vote "right now" for John McCain. (AFP)
The Missouri Secretary of State condemned robocalls telling Obama supporters to vote Wednesday because of long delays. (AP)
Virginia voters received robocalls with deceptive information about where to vote. (AP)
A 501(c)4 group called NewModelsUSA.org placed 32,000 calls in Pennsylvania saying that Obama's aunt is an illegal alien as a way of "testing" the issue of illegal immigration. (Politico)
By Chris Matthews | November 4, 2008; 09:52 PM ET | Comments (0)
A voter in Chesapeake, Va., waited in line for more than 7 hours, slightly more than the extraordinary 6 1/2-hour wait times in the suburbs of St. Louis, according to Election Protection. The voter apparently was at the Dr. Clarence V. Cuffee Community Center, which has about 1,000 people waiting in line when voting machines went down today. Voting machines are now back up and running and, as of 5 p.m., the wait was about 90 minutes. (Virginian-Pilot)
By Derek Kravitz | November 4, 2008; 08:58 PM ET | Comments (0)
State police are investigating at least three cases of possible voter suppression at election sites across Virginia. The cases were reported in the city of Richmond, Fairfax County and Fauquier County. One case was concerning the "over presentation of law enforcement" at a polling place; another case involved the playing of a "loud" recording of right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh within 300 feet of a precinct. (CNN)
By Derek Kravitz | November 4, 2008; 08:31 PM ET | Comments (0)
With voting sites now closed, Ohio Boards of Elections are preparing to deal with the thousands of provisional ballots believed to be cast by Ohioans. Provisional ballots, which are used when poll workers can't confirm a voters identity, will be counted only after state election officials confirm the voter is properly registered -- ten days after the election. It remains unclear how many voters cast provisional ballots, but officials believe the number is big.
By Chris Matthews | November 4, 2008; 08:15 PM ET | Comments (0)
Florida Democrats complained to the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office today about 3 1/2 hour long lines to vote at the University of Central Florida arena. The O.C. elections supervisor sent four additional staff members to the arena which dramatically shortened the lines. Despite the long wait, voters remained composed. (Orlando Sentinel
By Chris Matthews | November 4, 2008; 07:48 PM ET | Comments (0)
In Colorado, activists and a county clerk clashed over a lack of bilingual ballots. No voting instructions were printed in Spanish and there were not enough translators available at precincts in the county, which is 27 percent Latino. During early voting, Spanish speakers waited in line for more than two hours for translation assistance. (Denver Post)
By Derek Kravitz | November 4, 2008; 07:12 PM ET | Comments (0)
Voters taking cameras and video recorders with them into voting booths may be breaking the law. In the first election since the advent of YouTube, voters are documenting their voting experience and posting them on the site's "Video Your Vote" section, a collaboration with PBS. However, some states prohibit recording inside polling places and most prohibit the public display of one's marked ballot as a way to prevent possible voter coercion. A YouTube spokesman said PBS is checking videos to make sure they're from a state where creating a video is legal. However, users posting pictures and videos on sites like Facebook and Flickr are going unchecked. (AP)
By Chris Matthews | November 4, 2008; 07:10 PM ET | Comments (0)
A Republican poll watcher in Philadelphia called police alleging that two members of the New Black Panthers group were intimidating voters at the polls today. However, police and investigators from the D.A.'s office said they found no evidence of intimidation. Another Panther at the scene said he was there to protect voters from "media agitation." Meanwhile, a D.A. spokeswoman said that the day had been "remarkably quiet" compared to the 2004 election. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
By Chris Matthews | November 4, 2008; 06:18 PM ET | Comments (0)
The FBI is looking into how a phony e-mail was sent to George Mason University's server telling people to vote Nov. 5 along with the forged signature from the college's provost. About 35,000 people received the fake e-mail message (although most students interviewed by The Post said they didn't fall for it). (USA Today)
By Derek Kravitz | November 4, 2008; 06:10 PM ET | Comments (0)
An Indiana judge ordered the Marion County Republican Party to distribute copies of a recent order forbidding GOP operatives from challenging voters based on their names showing up on foreclosure or eviction lists. The judge issued the order Oct. 24 after the NAACP had filed suit based on suspicions Republicans planned to challenge voters on that basis. Members of both parties agreed to distribute the order, but Democrats said that GOP "challengers" at the polls had never heard of it. (Indianapolis Star)
By Chris Matthews | November 4, 2008; 05:53 PM ET | Comments (0)
Leaders of the Poweshiek County Republican Party in Iowa want the ballots of 50 Grinnell College students tossed because the students listed the college's main mailing address on their absentee ballots instead of their campus mailboxes. The county auditor said Grinnell students have listed the general campus address in the past without incident. A hearing has been set for Thursday. The complaints are among dozens reported today throughout Iowa.
(Des Moines Register)
By Chris Matthews | November 4, 2008; 05:40 PM ET | Comments (0)
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. (NPR)
By Derek Kravitz | November 4, 2008; 05:38 PM ET | Comments (0)
A federal judge ordered election officials in Virginia to preserve late-arriving absentee ballots, including ones from military personnel overseas, that Republican Sen. John McCain's campaign claims should be counted. The McCain campaign says in a lawsuit that absentee ballots weren't mailed on time to many military members serving overseas. The complaint asks the court to order the state to count absentee ballots from overseas troops postmarked by Tuesday and received by Nov. 14. (AP)
By Derek Kravitz | November 4, 2008; 04:48 PM ET | Comments (0)
Two North Carolina polling places had their closing times extended after delays this morning. In one case in Raleigh, an election official accidentally left the ballots in her grandson's truck, delaying voting in that precinct by more than an hour and forcing 300 people to wait. Another precinct in Durham will stay open an extra 20 minutes after a power outage this morning. Apparently, that move contradicts state election law. (Raleigh News & Observer)
By Derek Kravitz | November 4, 2008; 04:27 PM ET | Comments (0)
A bogus e-mail that advised 35,000 George Mason University students, faculty and staff that Election Day had been moved to Nov. 5 has been tracked to a D.C.-based company that works with political campaigns on the Web. Among the group's clients are Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine's Moving Virginia Forward campaign and Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh's AllAmerica Political Action Committee Web site. (washingtonpost.com/Security Fix)
By Derek Kravitz | November 4, 2008; 03:54 PM ET | Comments (0)
One precinct in the tiny suburb of Velda City in St. Louis County reported extraordinarily long lines -- up to 6 1/2 hours -- this morning. After a few hours early today, volunteers handed out snacks and water to people in line. People who finally got in to vote were treated to cheers on the way out. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
By Derek Kravitz | November 4, 2008; 03:34 PM ET | Comments (0)
Federal observers are on their way to Middle Georgia College in Bleckley County after elections officials apparently extended, then withdrew, a deadline to ensure student voting registrations. About 500 students from the predominantly black college registered to vote in the days leading up to the election, but about 370 were told several days ago that they needed to provide proof of residence before Election Day. Some students claim they haven't gotten their letters from the registrar yet. No media outlets in the Middle Georgia region are carrying reports about the episode but Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Ga.) said federal monitors are checking on the situation. (Election Protection)
By Derek Kravitz | November 4, 2008; 02:38 PM ET | Comments (0)
A missing list of registered voters at Kansas City-area precincts led to a "frantic scramble to fix the problem." Melodie Powell, chairperson of the Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners said that "the poll logs got intermingled." She blamed a computer glitch for the problem. Elections officials sent out blank polling logs and teams of workers to help. (Kansas City Star)
By Derek Kravitz | November 4, 2008; 02:32 PM ET | Comments (0)
Elections officials and attorneys are keeping a close eye on Pennsylvania where voters awoke to especially long lines in Pittsburgh and some "funny business" in Philadelphia.
Heavy turnout in Pittsburgh caused long lines and some voting glitches but no major incidents. In Philadelphia, phony voting information was sent via text message in the Roxborough neighborhood and anti-Obama fliers, depicting the Democratic presidential candidate as an Arab on a $3 bill under a banner that read: "The Concerned States of America," were distributed outside one polling place. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Philadelphia Inquirer)
By Derek Kravitz | November 4, 2008; 02:10 PM ET | Comments (0)
Long lines and a host of voting machine problems are dominating the story in Virginia, according to watchdog groups and elections officials across the state. Election Protection called for the state to extend poll times to 9 p.m.; a federal judge refused a similar order earlier this week.
Long lines and paper jams in voting machines were reported in Hampton; Malfunctioning machines and long lines were found in Roanoke; and lines as long as four hours and machines that "turned on and off" were seen in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach; and in and around Richmond, voters were bused to polling places where parking lots were filled and wet ballots caused by stormy weather had jammed voting machines.
"There has been a wide range of problems, ranging from machines not booting up to machines not bringing up the full slate of choices," Karen Newman of the Fair Elections Legal Network told The Post's Josh White. "There have been problems with optical scan machines, apparently from getting wet. In Chesterfield, there were a number of problems with marked ballots being improperly fed through the machine. And there's some human error as well."
Other watchdog groups blamed the State Board of Elections for a lack of planning by ignoring calls to have more paper ballots available and to standardize voting around the state.
The question of whether there are enough machines in Virginia to handle turnout surfaced before Election Day. The minimum standard for machines is one for every 750 voters, compared to one for every 200 voters in Maryland. (washingtonpost.com; Hampton Daily Press; Roanoke Time & World News; The Virginian-Pilot; Richmond Times-Dispatch)
By Derek Kravitz | November 4, 2008; 01:45 PM ET | Comments (0)
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. Similar problems were reported in Palm Beach County, where some machines at the 450 polling locations were not accepting ballots because voters are not filling out the second page. (Tampa Tribune, AP)
By Derek Kravitz | November 4, 2008; 01:12 PM ET | Comments (0)
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 scanners across the county. Five of the scanners were replaced. 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. And just 2 percent of nearly 8,600 poll workers did not report last night or this morning, compared with an absence rate of around 20 percent in 2006. This is despite a report this morning by Election Protection of "general confusion and mechanical malfunctions" in Cleveland. (Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Election Protection)
By Derek Kravitz | November 4, 2008; 12:43 PM ET | Comments (0)
Elections officials in Columbus, Ohio, are downplaying reports of widespread problems in Franklin County with touch-screen voting machines. County officials there say poll workers are having problems setting up certain machines; Election Protection, a national group of activists and election watchdog groups, had reported problems with machines in that county. (Columbus Dispatch, Election Protection)
By Derek Kravitz | November 4, 2008; 12:37 PM ET | Comments (0)
Power outages occurred at polling places in St. Paul, Minn., after a truck hit a power plant at about 8:25 a.m. Power was out for about 90 minutes at one polling place, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported, but it did not adversely affect voting, elections officials said. Voters' ballots were held in a "security slot" on the ballot box until power was restored. Then, two election judges from different parties fed the ballots through. (St. Paul Pioneer Press)
By Derek Kravitz | November 4, 2008; 12:28 PM ET | Comments (0)
Voting continues in Denver despite the failure of some voting machines. Election judges at Manual High School in Denver's Whittier neighborhood switched to paper ballots after computerized voting machines failed. (Denver Post)
By Amanda Zamora | November 4, 2008; 11:31 AM ET | Comments (0)
Unknown hackers broke into George Mason University's e-mail system and sent students a forged message from the school's provost early this morning stating that Election Day had been moved to Nov. 5. (Security Fix/washingtonpost.com)
By Amanda Zamora | November 4, 2008; 10:44 AM ET | Comments (1)
State election officials are warning Virginia voters not to believe robo-calls intended to mislead voters about their polling places. Officials advise voters to verify their polling places at www.sbe.virginia.gov or by calling call the state board toll-free at 1-800-552-9745. (AP)
By Amanda Zamora | November 4, 2008; 09:35 AM ET | Comments (0)
How long will lines at my polling place be?
Can I wear a campaign button when I vote?
Will touch-screen voting machines work?
These were among the questions our readers posed this afternoon in an online discussion on Election Day issues. Many of the answers to those questions, however, won't be known until Tuesday, the experts warned.
Dan Seligson, editor for the Pew Center for the State's Electionline.org, offered one piece of advice.
"The mid-afternoon tends to be slow -- in most years. But that might not be the case if we have the expected historic turnout on Tuesday. Be patient, and as more than one election official has suggested, bring a book," Seligson said. (Seligson also said voters might be required to cover up campaign buttons, but won't be turned away; other questions can be answered by Election Protection's Elections 101 guide at the nonprofit, nonpartisan group's web site.)
Early voting has been marked by high turnouts, leading to long lines in Florida and some other states. The Pew Center experts warned that other trouble spots, including Colorado and Ohio, could crop up on Election Day.
In Virginia, fliers printed with the wrong voting date and fake state seals were passed out in predominantly black neighborhoods throughout the Hampton Roads, Newport News and Virginia Beach areas, sparking a state police investigation and bringing calls for action by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.).
Meanwhile, Georgia is locked in a fight over the eligibility of some voters whose citizenship is in question. Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) announced that her office is sending letters to 4,770 registered voters, informing them that they have to cast "challenge" ballots that won't be immediately tabulated on Election Day. If they can prove their citizenship, Handel told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, they would be allowed to vote.
By Derek Kravitz | October 31, 2008; 05:16 PM ET | Comments (0)
There's been no shortage of stories recently warning of Election Day troubles. Lawyers for both campaigns are already swarming states like Florida, the scene of the 2000 hanging chad debacle, and as we noted in an earlier posting, Florida is among several places that could experience major problems Tuesday.
With an unprecedented focus on the voting booth, we're looking to our readers to help us document the voting experience across the country. Beginning Tuesday at 6 a.m. ET, we will launch Vote Monitor 2008 to collect your Election Day stories. We want to know what you encounter -- from long lines to voting machine issues, registration errors to voter intimidation -- in order to show potential voting problems as they arise across the country.
In the meantime, you can tune into Vote Monitor on Twitter, where we'll be keeping an eye on voting-related headlines and resources. The political campaigns aren't the only ones breaking new ground in terms of online strategy -- grassroots organizations and advocacy groups are also utilizing Web tools to mobilize voters. The folks at Election Protection and Video the Vote, for instance, will be using Twitter to chronicle voting issues along with the Vote Report project -- all examples of how people are harnessing the power of Web 2.0 tools to monitor this election. The Vote Monitor will keep tabs on these independent groups, as well as mainstream news outlets and of course, our army of Washington Post reporters, so that you can monitor the course of voting.
Also today at 2 p.m. ET, the folks from Pew's electionline.org will be joining us for a live discussion on Election Day logistics. Their 2008 election preview (PDF) provides an excellent overview of state-by-state voting information, while noting how record voter turnout combined with other key factors may create a "perfect storm" for Election Day problems.
See you on Election Day!
By Amanda Zamora | October 31, 2008; 01:10 PM ET | Comments (7)
Access Issue: Were you prevented from accessing your polling place because of long lines? Lack of wheelchair access?
Electioneering/Intimidation: Were you deterred from voting? The Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibits anyone from discriminating against, threatening, intimidating or coercing another person trying to vote. Likewise, candidates and individuals are barred from actively campaigning within 100 feet of most polling places.
Location Issue: Did you show up at the wrong polling place? Did you have to file a provisional ballot as a result? Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia require provisional ballots be cast in the correct precinct in order to be eligible for counting. See provisional balloting by state (electionline.org).
ID Issue: Were you unable to cast a regular ballot for not having proper ID? Federal law requires first-time voters who register by mail without verifying their identity to present identification at the polls. Twenty-four other states require ID of all voters. The National Conference of State Legislatures has details on ID requirements by state.
Registration Issue: Did you arrive at your precinct to find your name not on the rolls? If you tried to register, was your eligibility challenged?
Voting Issue: Did you experience any problems actually voting? Did your electronic voting machine function properly?
By Amanda Zamora | October 30, 2008; 05:04 PM ET | Comments (0)