Problems with e-voting reported early in US battleground states

Issues arose in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia

An electronic voting machine

An electronic voting machine

Grafton said people in the area are "worried" their votes will not be counted because they would be on paper ballots and not on the e-voting machine.

Other voters said they preferred to use a paper ballot even if they voted via e-voting machine because they felt having a paper trail to record votes was more secure.

"It's two minutes to do the electronic, so if you have to do the paper I would do it too, to make sure the vote counts." said Sylvia Green-Robinson, a certified nurse's aid who waited two hours to vote at a polling site in Irvington, New Jersey, about six miles from New York.

Interviewed outside of that polling site, Irvington Councilman David Lyons also said that he's heard concerns from voters about the security of votes without a paper trail, including worries that "people might be able to hack" into voting machines and there will be no record of actual votes.

Unlike older machines that have been used to vote in the state, with New Jersey's new e-voting machines, "if there's a problem there's no paper trail to actually show how people may have voted," he said. "Elections in this country should be fair and clean. There shouldn't be any fear of people worrying about whether their votes were going to be cast, or whether someone can hack in and change things.

Lyons also grumbled about the fact that there was only one e-voting machine in his district, which predominantly consists of African-American voters who were expected to turn out en masse this election because it marks the first time an African-American, Obama, is a major party's candidate for president. He said that election officials should have been more prepared for high voter turnout.

"I mean, this municipality is mostly African-American," he said, complaining that voters were being squeezed into polling places that lacked the resources to handle them. "I didn't know how it is that they didn't prepare for this."

By 10 a.m. local time, the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper in Virginia reported on its blog of voting news that it received widespread reports of e-voting problems, including trouble with the wireless communication systems of voting machines in Godwin, which the registrar there was quoted as attributing to human error. While that issue was fixed by about 6:45 a.m., other e-voting miscues were cited by the newspaper, as well as reports of a problem with ballots jamming in the feed of a machine that reads marked ballots.

By mid-morning Eastern Standard Time the State Board of Elections in Virginia reported in a press statement its call centers were "experiencing an unprecedented number of calls" from voters about the election. State officials urged voters to call their local registrars for assistance with voting or use the state's Web site rather than call the election board.

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Elizabeth Montalbano

IDG News Service
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