Poll Hours Extended In Some Areas As Midterm Voting Draws To A Close
ATLANTA (CNN) — As the clock winds down on the midterms, there are scattered reports of people across the country still having trouble voting. In some places, judges are being asked to extend voting times to make up for trouble earlier in the day Tuesday (Nov. 6).
Here are some of the voter issues and irregularities that CNN has found so far this Election Day, from power outages to excessive humidity.
Indiana judge OKs extended voting hours in Porter County
A state judge has approved a request from the Porter County Democratic Central Committee to extend voting hours at 12 precincts in the northwestern Indiana county on Tuesday night.
Polls in Indiana typically close at 6 p.m. local time. But the judge’s ruling adds between an hour and two-and-a-half hours to precincts in Valparaiso, Chesterton, Portage and Crown Point.
The request was made because the precincts opened late, The Times of Northwest Indiana reported.
In response, the Indiana Republican State Committee planned to file a challenge to the ruling Tuesday afternoon, saying that Indiana law requires that votes cast after 6 p.m. must be provisional, according to Patrick McEuen, attorney for Indiana Republican State Committee.
A court hearing was set for late Tuesday afternoon, McEuen said.
Humidity in North Carolina
The North Carolina state board of elections said humidity appears to be causing difficulties in feeding ballots through tabulators in some Wake County precincts.
In a news release, North Carolina’s Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement said such ballots will be stored in “emergency bins” and “will be tabulated as soon as possible.” All ballots will be counted, the board said.
Officials are still working to resolve the issue in eight of the 204 precincts of Wake County N.C., Dara Demi, the county communications director, told CNN. The county has sent crews out to affected locations to help bring the humidity under control.
“The tabulators are not broken, but extremely sensitive.” Demi said, “This is by design.” Over the course of the day, voting officials will feed ballots from the emergency bins back into voting machines until they are accepted.
Ballot shortage in Arlington, Texas
An Arlington, Texas, voting location didn’t have enough paper ballots for an entire precinct.
Khadija Farah told CNN that 20 minutes after she arrived at her polling place at T.A. Howard Middle School in Tarrant County, the line to vote stretched out the door. Farah says that the electronic voting machine was not working, and she was told by a poll worker that they did not have any ballots for her precinct.
“Once that info was shared, most of the people in line decided to leave,” she says.
Sam Taylor, communications director for the Texas Secretary of State’s office, told CNN that the location immediately made emergency ballots available so that voters could continue to cast their ballots.
Long lines in Atlanta area
A polling place in Atlanta had too few voting machines to start the day Tuesday, an official said, resulting in long lines that drew the attention of the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Only three voting machines were initially delivered to a polling site at Atlanta’s Pittman Park Recreation Center, resulting in long lines, Fulton County spokesperson April Majors said. Five more machines were eventually delivered.
Jackson, who already was in town, said he visited the site and met people who had waited most of the morning to vote. He said he encouraged people not to leave.
“It’s inhumane,” he told CNN about those people having to wait all morning to vote. “I’m worried because people are on dialysis or have to go to work.”
In Gwinnett County, just northeast of Atlanta, a polling place at Annistown Elementary School opened 25 minutes late because machines used to check voters in had technical issues, said Candice Broce, spokeswoman for the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.
As a result, the polls will stay open at that school until 7:25 p.m. — 25 minutes longer than other polls in the state.
Scanner issues in New York
Amy Spitalnick, New York attorney general’s communications director, said the top complaint on their Election Day hotline was broken scanners.
In a tweet, Spitalnick said they had received 225 calls and emails as of noon, and that 40-plus complaints were about poll sites that had at least one scanner broken, if not all.
Poll workers in New York are warning voters to not get their paper ballots wet, according to a state official.
Local officials have told their state counterparts that “keeping the ballots dry is paramount,” state Board of Elections spokeswoman Cheryl Couser told CNN when asked about reports of ballot scanner problems in multiple city locations.
“Poll workers have been advising voters to keep wet jackets/umbrellas away from the ballot,” Couser said.
In New York City, voters mark a paper ballot, which is then torn along a perforated line and fed into scanners as two pages, according to the city Board of Elections.
Couser said local authorities are deploying technicians in response to voting machine issues but “are not experiencing a high level of machine issues.” The city is “experiencing a higher turnout than normal,” she said.
The city’s Board of Elections spokesperson did not immediately respond to CNN’s inquiries.
Power outages in Tennessee
A polling place at Cedar Bluff Middle School in Knoxville, Tennessee, did not have power Tuesday morning and the site’s backup generator has also failed.
Cliff Rodgers, administrator for elections for Knox County, told CNN that people on site are urgently working to get the power on, and voting is still ongoing.
“We’re voting with paper ballots,” he told CNN by phone.
Because there’s no ambient light in the building, they’re voting outside. Out of an abundance of caution, Rodgers says, he’s ordered more paper ballots to the polling place.
Medical emergency in Pennsylvania
Amie Downs, a spokesperson for Allegheny County, said an individual who was due to open a polling site at a Carnegie Library location in the Pittsburgh area suffered a medical emergency.
The individual was hospitalized and voters requested emergency ballots. The ballots were sent to the location, which will be up and running shortly, Downs said.
Calibration issues in South Carolina
Rokey Suleman, the elections director in Richland County, South Carolina, told CNN that they are seeing a “higher frequency” of calibration issues for voting machines that are around 14 years old.
The issue means that a voter will touch a machine’s screen to choose a candidate and end up choosing the wrong one, although presumably voters can review which candidates they have picked and correct their choices.
Suleman estimated about 50 of the almost 1,000 machines in the county have had problems. He said he believes the machines that are having problems have gotten worse partly because of their age and also because of issues that arise from how they are delivered to voting sites.
“The calibration screens can be sensitive,” Suleman said. “The machines are not delivered with the greatest of care. They’re delivered — not thrown around, but they’re not delivered on a pillow either. But the older the machines are, the more likely you are to see screen calibration issues.”
Thirty technicians are out in the field “recalibrating” the machines that are reported to have issues, he said.
Island’s lone voting machine fails, so a replacement is ferried
When the lone voting machine on a remote island failed, Rhode Island officials delivered a replacement machine — by ferry.
The ballot scanning machine at the Prudence Island polling site stopped accepting ballots Tuesday morning, according to Miguel Nunez, the state’s deputy director of elections.
Voting continued without disruption using a backup procedure, he told CNN. Voters mark paper ballots, which are then counted by a scanner.
A new machine was delivered about an hour later after the problem was reported.
The island has 176 registered voters, Nunez said, and 218 residents, according to the 2010 census.
The Prudence Island voting site is one of two in the state that is only accessible by ferry. Block Island is another isolated site, but has two voting machines.
Nunez said he does not recall a similar incident in his 20 years with the state Elections Board.
DHS: Reports of voting machine issues are ‘typical’
Department of Homeland Security officials say they are aware of various reports from the states on voting machine issues but do not believe they are out of the norm.
“They did not share any widespread issues or trends with specific machines,” a department official who has been coordinating with election machine vendors told reporters Tuesday afternoon.
There are “typical machine issues,” he said.
Federal officials also said they are aware of voting misinformation that has been spread, but not aware of any “that we can attribute to a foreign actor.”
A DHS official told reporters Tuesday afternoon that there is some “intentional misinformation” that has spread.
That has “been rapidly addressed by the platforms,” the official said in an apparent reference to social media, or by law enforcement, which is “engaging with the folks who are sending those out.”
Other misinformation appears to be accidental, the official said, such as text messages sent this morning telling voters to cast their ballots Wednesday.
DHS is also monitoring how weather has affected the voting process in some localities, including by causing power outages.
The department has a national operations center and an online forum to communicate with state officials.