Glitches accompany new voting technology
WASHINGTON -- In Virginia, deceptive phone calls threatened residents with arrest if they tried to vote. In Kansas, voting machines wouldn't work until poll workers jury-rigged them with hand lotion. And in Pennsylvania, Indiana and Ohio, glitche...
WASHINGTON -- In Virginia, deceptive phone calls threatened residents with arrest if they tried to vote. In Kansas, voting machines wouldn't work until poll workers jury-rigged them with hand lotion. And in Pennsylvania, Indiana and Ohio, glitches with new computerized voting systems caused long waits and may have prevented some people from voting at all.
Widespread reports of confusion and delays emerged Tuesday as volunteer poll workers scrambled to implement new voting technology in about one-third of precincts nationwide. Voting rights groups said the problems, while troubling and widespread, were not as bad as in some recent elections.
At the same time, however, Democrats accused Republicans of conducting a last-minute operation aimed at preventing voters in Virginia from reaching the polls.
Officials in Virginia said the FBI has begun an investigation into the phone calls targeting Democratic areas of the state. The calls told recipients they would be arrested if they tried to vote in their home precincts. A recording of one such call posted on YouTube.com captured a man's voice telling the recipient that he would be "charged criminally" if he showed up to vote.
In Minnesota, the massive process of counting the vote generally went smoothly Tuesday, if you don't count the coffee spill that temporarily disabled one voting machine.
While some states struggled with new voting technology and long lines, Minnesota election officials reported few problems amid steady turnout.
The coffee spill happened in a precinct at First Christian Church in Minneapolis. The optical scanner quickly was replaced with another unit, Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer said.
"Our very Minnesota-nice election judges were serving voters coffee," she said. Though the disruption was minor, election officials were told to stop serving coffee, she said.
In Wisconsin, officials extended the close of polls at a Madison school by one hour after voting was halted briefly Tuesday due to a bomb threat.
The delay at Madison East High School was the only one in the state, Elections Board executive director Kevin Kennedy said.
Elsewhere in the country, long lines, untrained poll workers and malfunctioning computers were reported. In Colorado, slow-moving lines stretched for blocks at a downtown voting area that had computer problems, causing some voters to leave without casting ballots. In Maryland, the state's Republican governor publicly urged voters to vote absentee instead of using the state's voting machines.
In some parts of the country, problems also arose over identification requirements. In Missouri, the secretary of state, Democrat Robin Carnahan, was asked for photo identification three times when she tried to vote early last week, although that law had been overturned on the grounds it discriminated against some voters.
In South Carolina, Gov. Mark Sanford, a Republican, was turned away from his voting station because he forgot his voter identification card. In Ohio, a Republican congressman, Steve Chabot, was forced to go home to retrieve proof that he lived at the address listed on voter rolls.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton told reporters at a campaign stop near her home in Chappaqua, N.Y., that her daughter, Chelsea, had been turned away at a Manhattan polling site because her name did not appear in a book of registered voters. She was offered an affidavit vote, similar to provisional ballots used in other states.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.