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

Mike Litterst, a spokesman for the board, confirmed that there were problems reported with optical-scan machines in the state, but called them "isolated" incidents and attributed them to the weather. It was raining through much of the state, he said, which resulted in wet ballots that were jamming the machines.

"People's hands were wet filling out the ballots, and there would be a pucker in the paper when they voted" and it would jam the machine," Litterst said, adding that there were no problems reported so far with touchscreen machines.

Despite these reports, he said that the state had "the utmost confidence" that the vote would be fair in Virginia.

"People's votes will be counted," Litterst said. "The weather is not helping, and certainly there are lines, but that is not unexpected."

Despite Litterst's optimism, one nonpartisan watchdog group, the Election Protection Coalition, was calling for polls in Virginia to stay open two hours later than scheduled because of the problems reported there.

"Virginia is emerging as a major hot spot, with tens of thousands of voters at risk," the coalition said in a press statement, adding that it received hundreds of calls to the Election Protection Hotline reporting, among other things, "massive machine failures across the state."

Other problems reported, according to the group, were late openings at more than two dozen precincts, voters being turned away and voter intimidation.

By late morning voters in Michigan also began reporting that machine malfunctions were contributing to long lines and that some polling sites had to use paper ballots, according to the Our Vote Live blog. The Electronic Frontier Foundation developed Our Vote Live as a way to document voter problems reported to the Election Protection Coalition.

The southern part of Florida also was developing as a hotbed of problems for voters. In the area, which was the epicenter of voting problems in the controversial 2000 presidential race that put President George W. Bush in office, voters reported broken optical scan machines and long lines, according to Our Vote Live.

Voter-registration problems also were being widely reported to election watchdog groups by voters in Virginia, as well as in Florida, Pennsylvania and other key states. Crowds swelled at polling places, and police in many locales were called to help direct traffic around voting sites.

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Elizabeth Montalbano

IDG News Service
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