De­spite com­plaints, most vot­ing goes with­out a hitch

Marysville Appeal-Democrat - - NATION / STATE - Los An­ge­les Times (TNS)

Civil rights groups came pre­pared Tues­day with the one of the largest ef­forts ever to mon­i­tor elec­tions.

A tense buildup to the midterm elec­tion in­cluded warn­ings from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump of wide­spread vot­ing fraud, con­cerns about hack­ing and ac­cu­sa­tions of voter sup­pres­sion through iden­ti­fi­ca­tion laws in states in­clud­ing Ge­or­gia and North Dakota.

For the most part, how­ever, there was no wide­spread break­down in the vot­ing sys­tem, ac­cord­ing to the Elec­tion Pro­tec­tion Coali­tion, a net­work that in­cludes the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion for the Ad­vance­ment of Col­ored Peo­ple, Asian Amer­i­cans Ad­vanc­ing Jus­tice, Com­mon Cause and the Lawyers’ Com­mit­tee for Civil Rights Un­der Law.

But vot­ers across the coun­try nonethe­less hit snags as vot­ing ma­chines mal­func­tioned, lines in precincts ex­tended for hours and con­fu­sion over new voter ID laws reigned at hun­dreds of polling sites. Civil rights groups suc­cess­fully launched last-minute law­suits in sev­eral states to ex­tend vot­ing hours late into the night, in­clud­ing in Ful­ton County, Ga., and Har­ris County, Texas.

The non­par­ti­san Elec­tion Pro­tec­tion Hot­line re­ceived more than 30,000 calls by Tues­day night, ac­cord­ing to the Lawyers’ Com­mit­tee for Civil Rights Un­der Law, which op­er­ates the line. The num­ber is the high­est it has got­ten dur­ing a midterm elec­tion in the 18 years it has mon­i­tored Elec­tion Day is­sues. Dur­ing the 2014 midterm, the hot­line re­ceived just over 17,000 calls.

Many of the prob­lems seemed to be a re­sult of precincts over­whelmed with un­usu­ally large num­bers of vot­ers, ag­ing tech­nol­ogy and hu­man er­ror.

Iso­lated in­ci­dents were re­ported in Cal­i­for­nia. The non­par­ti­san vot­ing mon­i­tor­ing group Cal­i­for­nia Com­mon Cause said its vol­un­teers re­ceived 2,000 calls to its vot­ing hot­line, many with ques­tions about changes to polling places. In one un­usual in­ter­rup­tion in Bak­ers­field, a driver crashed into an ele­men­tary school and ran away, lead­ing po­lice to lock down the polling place.

In the North Hol­ly­wood and Canoga Park sec­tions of Los An­ge­les, a jammed bal­lot box and a bro­ken vot­ing ma­chine led to prob­lems. At the Los An­ge­les County regis­trar’s of­fice in Nor­walk, hun­dreds lined up for more than two hours to iron out reg­is­tra­tion is­sues, in­clud­ing new voter reg­is­tra­tions.

In Gwin­nett County, Ga., vot­ers said lines ran for more than four hours af­ter four ma­chines mal­func­tioned early in the day and left them to sub­mit pro­vi­sional bal­lots. In Chicago, a judge or­dered vot­ing hours to be ex­tended at five lo­ca­tions af­ter precincts opened late and vot­ers said bal­lot pages were miss­ing. In parts of the Deep South, storms led to black­outs, in­clud­ing one in Knox County, Tenn., that left sev­eral polling places with­out elec­tric­ity, forc­ing them to re­sort to pa­per bal­lots.

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