Long lines, complicated ballots, electronic voting problems and ID law issues caused delays and frustration on an already tense Election Day.
Pennsylvania's controversial photo ID law was blocked for Tuesday's general election, and even though only first-time voters and new residents were required to show their IDs, many poll workers asked all voters for identification anyway.
"You could see it in her eyes that she knows darn well she's wrong," Sean Redding, 29, told the Morning Call newspaper. "They're doing everything in their power to not let you in to vote if you don't show them ID. They're very nasty about it, too."
In areas hard-hit by superstorm Sandy, crashed servers made voting even more difficult for displaced residents. New Jersey opted to extend email voting until Friday, and New Yorkers were allowed to vote for president in any precinct but could vote for local officials only at their assigned neighborhood polling place.
Ballot scanning issues have been reported in Ohio in Cleveland, Dayton and Toledo, the Election Protection coalition says, and miscalibrated machines have caused problems in South Carolina and Virginia as well. And an unexpected glitch almost caused one central Pennsylvania voter to cast his ballot for the wrong candidate, underscoring concerns about voter fraud.
"I initially selected Obama but Romney was highlighted," writes Centralpavote on YouTube, of the glitch in central Pennsylvania. "I assumed it was being picky so I de-selected Romney and tried Obama again, this time more carefully, and still got Romney."
The man, a software developer, tried to see if the screen was simply calibrated incorrectly, but the buttons for the other candidates worked fine. Eventually he found that the only way to select Obama was to click on a small sliver of the screen.
Other voters at the precinct didn't have the same problem, he said, and the volunteer didn't seem concerned. "She said, 'It's nothing to worry about, everything will be OK,' and went back to what she was doing," he wrote. "I then recorded this video." He says the video is unedited and the jumpy frames are from the camera app on his Android phone.
Reports are pouring in from other voters who say they had the same experience with electronic voting machines in other areas, and the computer-savvy among them are quick to point out that the problem is less about fraud and more about faulty electronics.
"This happens to ALL touch screen machines (your phone, kiosk, computer, etc)," writes Cheeta219 on YouTube. "These are crudely, haphazardly built machines that will fail sometimes."
In North Carolina, Kansas and Ohio, some electronic voting machines reportedly recorded votes for Obama even when voters had selected Romney. Joan Stevens of Marion, Ohio, told the Marion Star that it took three tries before her vote for Romney was recorded properly.
"You want to vote for who you want to vote for," she said, "and when you can't it's irritating."
Sophia Rogers, the director of the Board of Elections for Marion County, said after the glitch was discovered she had had the machine inspected and recalibrated. But as one touch-screen voting machine vendor pointed out, many of the voting machines were "up to 10 years old," and the frequency with which they are serviced can vary from state to state, or even from district to district.
"They have been in the field many years and through many election cycles," the vendor, Chris Riggall, told TheBlaze. "It is certainly possible [for them to get] out of calibration."
Voters in Galveston, Texas, were frustrated when they arrived at their polling centers first thing Tuesday morning only to find that the polls weren't open. The Galveston County Daily News reported those 45 polling centers will stay open two hours later, until 8:54 p.m., to make up for the delay.
In the heavily Democratic city of Philadelphia, the Republican Party reported that 75 legally credentialed voting inspectors were kicked out of polling places. (Local prosecutors are investigating.) In Oregon, an election worker was fired after she allegedly tampered with ballots by writing in Republican candidates in places where voters had left sections blank. And online, the Wall Street Journal mistakenly called Michigan for Mitt Romney before correcting itself in a news alert six minutes later.
But the biggest problem faced by voters so far? Long lines.
In Manassas, Va., Amy Myers of Organizing for America told Election Protection, "We had some people say they waited an hour and 15 minutes, and lots of people walk away because they can't wait that long."
In Florida, hours-long waits were common, and a complicated, multipage ballot with 11 proposed constitutional changes didn't help. But the most unfortunate problem may have been an errant robocall urging as many as 12,000 people in Pinellas County, Fla., to vote on Wednesday instead of on Election Day.
"We stopped it immediately when we found out about it," spokeswoman Nancy Whitlock told the Tampa Bay Times.
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