Ballot Watch: Smooth Sailing, Localized Issues

Scattered charges of problems at polling places in closely contested races.

ByABC News
November 2, 2010, 4:11 PM

Nov. 2, 2010 — -- As of late afternoon today ET, with polls in all 50 states still open, there were numerous reports of small voting problems, but nothing consistent in terms of a national trend.

The ABC News Ballot Watch team has been tracking reports of polling irregularities across the country.

The reported problems involved typical Election Day issues such as poorly trained poll workers, targeted mailers telling people the wrong date to vote and scattered acts of voter intimidation as partisans try to get the upper hand in close races.

The Ballot Watch team has been in touch with state election officials and campaign teams on both sides of the partisan aisle.

These are the specific issues it heard about:

Alaska: The Secretary of State report no problems so far. The state Republican Party said an early issue involved a voting machine that was not running. Ballots were being gathered and held properly.

California: Republicans and Democrats say no problems so far. Hundreds of Santa Clara County workers and volunteers are using rubber erasers to scrub away printing smudges on mail-in ballots. Optical scanners reading hundreds of thousands of vote-by-mail ballots began rejecting them last week because of the smudges, which were undetected when the ballots went to voters. The San Jose Mercury News says workers have been racking up overtime since Wednesday to erase the smear marks. Election officials say the scrubbing and re-feeding of ballots won't slow Tuesday night's returns.

Colorado: Total votes as of 12 p.m. ET: 1,211,297, with no known problems or concerns.

Connecticut: World Wrestling Entertainment decided not to distribute free merchandise at polling places. There are concerns about two-sided ballots: Some are worried that voters will not know to flip over their ballots; secretary of state spokesperson Av Harris says that there are 120 towns that recently used the two-sided ballots and there were no issues. Initial turnout numbers are expected at 5 p.m.

Illinois: Secretary of state and party officials are hearing so far so good.

Kentucky: Smooth election until now except for a couple of voting machine issues, but very few, according to election officials.

Nevada: So far, reports are good, according to election officials.

New Hampshire: A shooting in the vicinity of Pittsburg School has been resolved; the school is still on lockdown as a precaution. Polls closed shortly after 11:15 a.m. and reopened at 12:43 p.m. The attorney general and election moderator in Pittsburg are working to extend the polling hours by an additional hour; polls are to close at 8 p.m. The complaints about campaigning have been of an ordinary nature -- opposing campaigns outside of polling locations getting upset with each other. Overall, it has been a quiet day, other than Pittsburg. It is too early to tell what turnout is like, but an official says it is very healthy.

New York: WABC is reporting that about a dozen electronic ballot scanners are jamming. Voters are being given emergency ballots as officials attempt to fix the machines.

Pennsylvania: The secretary of state says the election is going well, with some minor issues and beautiful weather. Turnout seems to be normal for a non-presidential election. A state Democratic official says there have been issues of voter intimidation, including turning away registered Democrats, handing out ballot cards with Republican candidates and poll workers wearing Republican buttons.

West Virginia: Turnout is high. The secretary of state expects the final number to be in the mid 40,000. One issue has been touch screen paper put in backwards. It didn't prevent votes, and was corrected early this morning. The Internet went down at some precincts, but that didn't affect voting. There are some reports of polling stations opening late.

Washington: Because every county but one has voted by mail, it may be unlikely to know for sure who is the winner tonight. Ballots only need to be postmarked by today, they do not have to have been received by today. Ballots will be counted starting at 8:15 p.m. local time. Only 40 percent of ballots are expected to be counted tonight.

Wisconsin: Elections officials report heavy turnout everywhere except the city of Milwaukee. Columbia County is preparing to print extra ballots. The biggest problem reported so far is that some local election officials have made up rules on their own and required people to show photo IDs before they could vote. Wisconsin law is clear that no photo ID is required to vote. The reports came from the town of Oakland in Jefferson County, the town of Troy in Sauk County and the town of Byron in Monroe County. Democrats are hearing that Tea Party activists are harassing voters in Racine, Wis., a largely Democratic suburb of Milwaukee, by reportedly keeping "voter lists" and telling people they're not on the lists. The Democrats say they have it under control because they educated those communities and the poll workers. Republicans say some voting machines are malfunctioning, which is to be expected with old machines. Turnout is strong; down slightly in the city of Milwaukee.