Voters Face Long Lines, Ballot Problems

GOP challenged vote in scattered counties, but voting appeared to go smoothly.

Bythe ABC News Ballot Watch Team
November 3, 2008, 4:00 PM

Nov. 4, 2008 — -- People waited for hours in long lines to cast their votes in the presidential election in a day largely free of major voting breakdowns or systemic irregularities.

The main complaint was long lines, as the sheer number of voters overwhelmed polling places, particularly in battleground states like Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio. In some cases, voters lined up around the block or waited more than five hours to cast a vote.

Voters faced a variety of other problems -- there were scattered complaints of voting machine malfunctions and voters being improperly turned away from the polls -- and several lawsuits were filed.

The Republican Party plans to go to court tonight in Pennsylvania to try to extend voting hours near Pittsburgh and to complain about alleged machine malfunctions in at least one other county, a party lawyer told ABC News. The Allegheny County Solicitor said that no legal action has been filed to extend voting in the county, where polls have closed.

The Election Protection Coalition, a group of voting rights groups, reported that it had received 50,000 calls to its voter hot line by this afternoon, including complaints about broken machines in Florida and Michigan.

There were also numerous reports of optical scanner machines breaking down in North Carolina, though voters were allowed to complete ballots normally so they could be fed through machines later.

Republicans were headed to court in at least two other states as of this afternoon.

In Ohio, the Republican Party filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, claiming that she had not done enough to ensure provisional ballots are counted consistently throughout the state. An earlier version of the suit was dismissed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In Virginia, a federal judge ordered election officials to preserve late-arriving absentee ballots from overseas that Republicans say should be counted. The lawsuit, filed Monday, contends that ballots from thousands of troops will not be counted because they were not sent overseas with enough time for the troops to get them in. The judge plans to hold another hearing Nov. 10.

In Pennsylvania, a judge dismissed a lawsuit by the NAACP that sought to force Philadelphia County elections officials to count emergency paper ballots tonight after the polls closed. Election officials said they plan to count the ballots Friday.

The lines, and glitches, started early. In New York, Valerie Vazquez-Rivera from the city Board of Elections said the city is experiencing "unprecedented" voter turnout, with some people lining up outside polling places as early as 4 a.m.

Voting in one Raleigh, N.C., polling station was delayed for about 30 minutes this morning, after the judge in charge of delivering the ballots accidentally left them in a family member's car, said Wake County Board of Elections director Cherie Poucher. Poucher said she would ask the board to extend voting at that location for an extra hour.

The Associated Press reported that voters needed to use paper ballots because of problems with electronic voting machines in some New Jersey precincts, and in Virginia, voters endured longer than usual waits in one instance because, poll workers said, the head of a branch library had overslept.

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