Despite complaints, most voting goes without a hitch
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.