Nov. 3, 2004 — -- Four year ago, hanging chad and other voting problems left the outcome of the presidential election in doubt for weeks. This Election Day, it appears only a few scattered and minor incidents surfaced.
While problems may still appear as officials conduct final counts of all -- including absentee -- ballots, below is a state-by-state list of some of the voting irregularities that were reported from voting stations across the country on Election Day.
The organization FairVote said it received more than 500 calls on its hot line. Its representatives said the biggest problem was people being turned away in some precincts in Boulder and Denver because the address on their identification didn't match the address on the voter registration logs. It didn't have to match, according to the Colorado Guide for Election Judges.
After Colorado Republicans complained of allegedly improper activities by workers from the left-leaning group MoveOn.org, the secretary of state's office sent a notice to all counties saying state law bars any "election-related activity" within 100 feet of the building where voting is taking place. Eli Pariser, executive director of MoveOn.org, denied the allegations, which were made in multiple states, calling them "scurrilous" and "false," and said, "we appear to be a victim of orchestrated effort to create a phony storyline if the election is close."
In Volusia County, an optical scan ballot reader broke down at an early voting site but the ballots in question were "reread" into a new machine Tuesday under the watch of both parties.
In Miami and St. Petersburg, a total of three machines did not accurately record the vote preferences of some people voting, leading them to complain to precinct officials, who rectified the problem, according to Democratic Party officials. It appears the number of affected voters was low.
In Broward County, 10 new touch-screen voting machines failed, according to The Associated Press. Similar problems were reported in Tallahassee.
In Boynton Beach, a poll clerk reported to the AP that nearly 40 votes were apparently erased after a power failure.
Republican officials complained that activists from MoveOn.org were hovering too close to polling stations. Eli Pariser, executive director of MoveOn.org, denied the claims, which were alleged in multiple states, calling them "scurrilous" and "false" and said "we appear to be a victim of orchestrated effort to create a phony storyline if the election is close."
The Election Protection Coalition reported multiple failures with electronic voting machines in New Orleans. The technical problems led to long lines and prompted some voters to turn away from the polls, according to the group.
The Michigan Republican Party filed suit against the city of Detroit in Circuit Court in Wayne County asking that all workers of MoveOn.org be ordered to stop campaigning in polling places in the city and that Republican poll challengers be allowed to perform their jobs in polling places.
Republican officials alleged that activists from the left-leaning group MoveOn.org had tried to operate within 100 feet of more than 20 Twin Cities-area polling places in violation of state laws against electioneering. Republicans said they were seeking a temporary restraining order to stop Moveon.org from violating Minnesota election laws. Eli Pariser, executive director of MoveOn.org, denied the claims, which were alleged in multiple states, calling them "scurrilous" and "false" and said "we appear to be a victim of orchestrated effort to create a phony storyline if the election is close."
New Hampshire Republican Party officials claimed that workers from the left-leaning political group Moveon.org posed as exit pollers to get inside polling locations. The GOP officials said once inside they tried to persuade voters to cast ballots for Sen. John Kerry. Republicans said they successfully removed the alleged Moveon.org/exit poll imposters from polling stations. MoveOn.org representatives denied the allegations and said their efforts focused on getting out infrequent voters and there would be no reason for their organizers to be going to the polls to change people's minds so late in the game -- because that would go against the whole point of their campaign. They said it was the GOP trying to create a public record of controversy in battleground states.
In a Mount Laurel precinct, a voting station was closed for two hours when officials found a suspicious substance on the floor, according to the AP. It was later determined to be spilled salt and the station reopened.
Bernalillo County initially reported an extraordinarily high number of provisional ballots. Under the procedure set by the state, provisional ballots won't be counted until Nov. 6 at the earliest (the counting period is Nov. 6-12).
A federal judge in Toledo ruled that Ohio voters who did not receive absentee ballots on time could cast provisional ballots at the polls. This ruling reversed an earlier directive by the secretary of state who ruled voters could not cast provisional ballots despite not receiving their absentee ones. A lawsuit, filed by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Bingham McCutchen LLP, had asked the federal court to enter an injunction requiring the secretary of state to allow statewide provisional voting.
A federal court judge granted a request filed by attorneys for the Ohio Democratic Party, ordering election officials in Franklin and Knox counties to provide paper ballots or other alternative methods to voters waiting to use electronic touch-screen machines. The Franklin County Board of Elections appealed it, and election officials in both Franklin and Knox counties claimed they had no way to carry out the judge's order. The secretary of state filed a response saying the complaint was bogus.
At some polling places, waiting times to vote were reported to be up to five hours long. The judge also ordered both counties to comply with state law, which requires that those already in line at the official poll closing time of 7:30 p.m. be allowed to vote. In the village of Gambier, where Kenyon College is located, the last vote was cast Wednesday at 3:56 a.m.
Concern over possibly fraudulent voting machines in Philadelphia arose when two voting machines showed hundreds of votes already registered by the time voting stations opened. But Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham inspected the two machines and said the confusion stemmed from the fact that one counter on the machine records the total number of votes ever cast, while another tallies the day's votes. The day's vote counter began at zero, she said. Still, Republican officials pointed out that Abraham is a Democrat and said they might go to court to have the machines impounded.
Two precincts in Greenville County experienced problems with their new touch-screen voting machines. Some early voters had to use paper ballots as technicians repaired the machines. The machines were working properly about 90 minutes after polls opened, according to the AP.
At a Virginia Union University voting station in Richmond, voters waited for up to two hours as workers tried to fix ballots that showed the wrong names of candidates for Congress, according to the AP. At one point, some voters were asked to use paper ballots but they said the ballots ran out.
In Kanawha County, a poll worker accidentally closed a slat on a ballot box that was not supposed to be shut until the polls close, according to the AP. The box was reset by 7:15 a.m., but the delay forced a few residents to cast provisional ballots.
ABC News reported from the Bush-Cheney satellite headquarters in Milwaukee that between 18 and 30 vans that were going to be used to transport Republican volunteers to voting stations had flat tires. Witnesses said they were slashed overnight. Campaign workers said the incident slowed them down by about 90 minutes.
Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager issued a statement saying the Wisconsin Department of Justice received several reports alleging polling place observers had illegally attempted to turn away voters with misleading and false information. People attempting to vote in Milwaukee, Kenosha and Racine counties were told they were unable to register at the polls -- Wisconsin has same-day registration. Lautenschlager assigned agents into the field at various polling places throughout the state.
The Advancement Project, a voting rights group, said it filed a complaint to keep a Milwaukee polling station open 90 minutes later, until 9:30 p.m., due to a delay in the morning. A spokesperson for the Advancement Project said the ballots arrived late at the polling station.