Ugly end to a messy elec­tion

A shoot­ing at polling sta­tion, al­le­ga­tions of voter ha­rass­ment on top of usual vot­ing chaos

Toronto Star - - NEWS - JEN­NIFER YANG STAFF RE­PORTER

Long lines, mal­func­tion­ing ma­chines, a Trump cam­paign law­suit, al­le­ga­tions of voter ha­rass­ment and a shoot­ing that locked down two Cal­i­for­nia polling sta­tions — for Amer­i­can vot­ers on Tues­day, an ugly and messy elec­tion sea­son came to an ugly and messy end.

Fears of wide­spread elec­tion-day vi­o­lence failed to ma­te­ri­al­ize on Tues­day, though Cal­i­for­ni­ans en­dured a few tense hours af­ter gun­fire erupted near a polling sta­tion in Azusa, a city 40 kilo­me­tres east of Los An­ge­les.

The shoot­ing forced the lock­down of two polling sta­tions but po­lice said late Tues­day that it was un­re­lated to the elec­tion and they still had no mo­tive. The gun­man and a male vic­tim in his 70s were killed, with two other peo­ple in­jured; at least one of the vic­tims was also on their way to vote, it was re­ported.

But out­side of Azusa, U.S. vot­ers en­coun­tered more typ­i­cal polling sta­tion dra­mas: long line­ups, mal­func­tion­ing ma­chines, as­sorted an­noy­ances and iso­lated pock­ets of voter ha­rass­ment.

The day did be­gin, how­ever, with a Don­ald Trump trade­mark: a law­suit. Early Tues­day, the Repub­li­can can­di­date’s cam­paign filed a law­suit in Ne­vada — one of sev­eral states that al­lows early vot­ing — al­leg­ing that vot­ers were al­lowed to cast their bal­lots past dead­line last week.

In Ne­vada, peo­ple stand­ing in line when the polls close at 8 p.m. are al­lowed to cast their bal­lots. The Trump cam­paign is al­leg­ing, how­ever, that elec­tion of­fi­cials vi­o­lated state law by al­low­ing peo­ple to join the line even af­ter the cut off time.

The law­suit, which was quickly re­jected by a Ne­vada judge, was widely per­ceived as an at­tempt to sup­press His­panic vot­ers in a key swing state. The polling sta­tion was lo­cated out­side of a Mex­i­can su­per­mar­ket in Las Ve­gas, a Clin­ton strong­hold.

While elec­tion day was largely peace­ful, civil rights groups logged a high num­ber of com­plaints from vot­ers re­port­ing ha­rass­ment or sup­pres­sion.

As of early Tues­day evening, some 30,000 calls had al­ready been re­ceived by a na­tional voter com­plaint hot­line; ac­cord­ing to civil rights groups, a large pro­por­tion of them were from African-Amer­i­can and Latino vot­ers.

Ac­cord­ing to Elec­tion Pro­tec­tion, an or­ga­ni­za­tion op­er­at­ing a hot­line, vot­ers com­plained about be­ing di­rected to the wrong polling places, learn­ing that their names had been purged from voter rolls, be­ing wrongly told to fill out pro­vi­sional bal­lots, and be­ing im­prop­erly asked for iden­ti­fi­ca­tion or forced to wait in long lines.

Vot­ers in Florida’s also re­ported peo­ple “us­ing mega­phones ag­gres­sively” and in Jack­sonville, an “unau­tho­rized in­di­vid­ual” was also found in­side a polling sta­tion, ac­cord­ing to Kris­ten Clarke, pres­i­dent of the Lawyers’ Com­mit­tee for Civil Rights Un­der Law, dur­ing a press con­fer­ence.

There were also re­ports in Hol­ly­wood, Fla. of “ag­gres­sive in­di­vid­u­als hov­er­ing around” vot­ers as the ap­proached polling sites. “Some have turned away be­cause they did not feel able to freely cast (a) bal­lot.”

A few skir­mishes were also re­ported Tues­day. In Michi­gan, au­thor­i­ties had to break up a shov­ing match be­tween a Hil­lary Clin­ton sup­porter and an­other voter sup­port­ing Trump.

In Florida, an al­ter­ca­tion be­tween a male Clin­ton sup­porter and a fe­male Trump sup­porter out­side of a Palm Beach polling sta­tion also led to the man be­ing pep­per sprayed and the wo­man al­legedly punched.

Else­where in the Sun­shine State, two clerks in Broward County were also fired for not ad­her­ing to “pro­ce­dure and pol­icy,” with of­fi­cials de­clin­ing to re­lease any other details.

Across the coun­try, there were scat­tered re­ports of ma­chines that didn’t work prop­erly, in­clud­ing in Durham, N.C., where a com­put­er­ized sys­tem for ver­i­fy­ing voter reg­is­tra­tion failed in sev­eral precincts.

One vot­ing precinct closed for an hour and a half and was forced to turn vot­ers away, ac­cord­ing to the New York Times.

At North Carolina Cen­tral Univer­sity, “it was a two-and-one-half-hour wait at 3 p.m.,” Gun­ther Peck, a Duke Univer­sity as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of his­tory, told the Times.

“Only 240 peo­ple had voted as of 4 p.m., and it should have been 500,” he said. “Dozens of stu­dents had to leave. It was good for Don­ald Trump, no doubt about that.”

Through­out the day, there were also spo­radic re­ports of mis­in­formed poll work­ers giv­ing out er­ro­neous in­for­ma­tion about voter iden­ti­fi­ca­tion. Long lines were also re­ported at var­i­ous polling sta­tions across the coun­try, prompt­ing some vot­ers to give up on cast­ing their bal­lots.

THE WASH­ING­TON POST/THE WASH­ING­TON POST

Sup­port­ers of Demo­cratic nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton wear their worry as most of the mid­west states go for Trump on elec­tion night in New York City.

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