THE BLOG
12/05/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Reports from the Polls Live Blog

Hi Everyone, I'm Ali, and I'm going to be liveblogging all day on reports from the polls of voting problems as they come in from local bloggers, readers, campaigns, and voting rights groups. Tell me you story in the comments.

7:03pm OK, heading out. Here's to a non-litigious election!

"Earlier today, three voters of Somali origin at the Brian Coyle Center in Minneapolis told me -- and two told an election observer -- that a translator working there was instructing people to vote for Sen. Norm Coleman.

"In addition, the presence of a Coleman staffer who says he came to volunteer his services as a challenger or translator also stirred controversy between election judges and GOP challengers on the scene."

Two police officers in Greeley have been illegally checking voters' identification at a polling place near the University of North Colorado. According to Sarah Brannon with the Fair Elections Legal Network

6:13pm DON'T BELIEVE THE TEEVEE. Almost all of the networks have reported some bad closing times for the polls. Be sure to check your Secretary of State's website or govote.org.

6:05pm From a voting rights group:

If you are in the line when the polls close, in Every state you can vote. So for example in Ohio, when the polls close at 7:30, even if the line is 3 hours long you can vote.

6:02pm More from NM, sounds like small problems (other than the absentee issue):

"We've caught a few problems this morning, including one at Grants Middle School, ...[where] a caller reported that poll workers were requesting physical ID from every voter at that polling place, which is contrary to New Mexico law," Steve Allen, executive director of Common Cause of New Mexico said.

but there has also been a lot of clear sailing. Yay, early vote!

And we have a report from the Independent's Joel Gay, who voted this morning in Albuquerque's North Valley: "I went over at noon, which should have been as busy as it gets, but it was 25 empty booths and me," Gay said. "One of the poll workers said they had a line when they opened the doors at 7 a.m., but it cleared out quickly. They chalked it up to early voting."

5:55pm So what happens when you request an absentee ballot and it never comes? Well it seems that you could get screwed. In Dona Ana County, NM, almost 3,000 absentee ballots have not been submitted:

There has been widespread concern about absentee ballots in Doña Ana County since it was learned on Friday that the county didn't comply with a law requiring that absentee ballots be mailed out within 24 hours of the office receiving requests for the ballots. Some Republicans charged that 3,000 to 5,000 ballots weren't mailed out until Friday and that thousands of voters might be disenfranchised. The county maintained that those numbers were exaggerated and that the problem was much less severe.

5:41pm They file lawsuits:

Lawyers for the NAACP-Philadelphia Branch and its member-voters are filing an emergency lawsuit against Philadelphia County this afternoon, seeking a court ruling requiring county election officials to count emergency paper ballots cast today at the close of polls. Despite orders from the Secretary of State, election officials have stated they do not plan to count these emergency ballots until Friday.

5:18pm The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that some Ohio votes may not get counted til tomorrow, but Buckeye State Blog says that's not true:

There's apparently a misunderstanding out there that people are being asked to vote provisional paper ballots if the lines are too long. THAT IS UNTRUE.

In order to relieve the expected long lines today, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner ordered the county Board of Elections to give voters the option of casting a paper optical scan ballot instead of waiting for an electronic voting machine to become available. Any such optical scan ballot offered to relieve the congestion of the lines is a regular ballot, not a provisional ballot.

Buckeye State goes on to report that lines in Ohio today have been in general an hour or less. Ifthat turns out correct then that will be a huge improvement from 2004.

5:13pm Officials in Michigan are preparing to have to do a hand recount:

State and federal officials have not responded to concerns about malfunctioning ballot tabulators in suburban Detroit, reported more than a week ago by Oakland County Clerk Ruth Johnson.

Johnson's concerns about the machine used to count votes in Oakland -- Michigan's second most populous county -- came to light yesterday afternoon when the federal Election Assistance Commission published an Oct. 24 letter from Johnson in which she said that the ES&S M100 vote tabulation machines used throughout the county had failed pre-election logic and accuracy tests in four Oakland county communities.

The machines came up with different totals each time the same set of ballots were run through, she said.

5:09pm Some CO hispanic voters are leaving the polls without voting due to the lack of ballots written in Spanish or translators to help.

5:02pm Commenter CVN65 reports that in PA GOP voters trying to vote down the line didn't get a presidential vote cast. I've been hearing the same thing for DEM voters. Double check before submitting your vote, and if you're not sure, check off each candidate individually.

4:13pm Evil dirty tricksters going after the Youts again, this time in Texas:

Don Juan Corzo, a reporter for Semana News in Houston, Texas, just received the following text message on his mobile phone: "Due to extremly long lines Obama voters are encouraged to cast their ballot on Wensday."

Definitely, the biggest question is: Where did they get the numbers from? I've seen a lot of voter suppression tactics, but I am curious to know how they new that the number were mobile numbers. I assume that they got the numbers from the voter lists which usually don't specify that type of information. Anyone have access to TX voter files to find out?

4:02pm From folks working on election protection:

what we're hearing out NM is that registered Democrats in Chaves County are getting calls from people telling them that the election has been postponed until November 8.

4:00pm More on the "black panther wannabes", TPM takes a look at the other side of the story.

3:46pm
Tasch in the comments
below raises a concern about how can you really tell if your vote got counted by a machine correctly?

The truth is, you can never be 100% sure. That's why paper ballots are so important. If the race is close, then there will a recount, and if the number of paper ballots don't match the number counted by the machine, then the election workers will be able to catch it there.

My polling place offered paper ballots or touch screens. I went with the old school paper ballot just to be sure.

3:36pm Temple students out in force! Yummm, those soft pretzels sound mighty good right now.

3:20pm From a voter in California:

This morning I arrived at my precinct at 7:00 a.m. PST to vote. This was a new precinct for me and there was already a long line waiting. After about 20 minutes I arrived at the entrance and was informed by a poll worker that there were 2 precincts at this location and if I was in the wrong line (which I was) I could vote provisional. I said "no sir, I will NOT vote provisional, as you do not count those votes unless they are needed. And there are too many important Propositions on the ballot this time." I asked why it wasn''t clearly marked and how others would know and he pointed to a small sign on the door, which was unvisible because the door was proped open.

I proceeded to go to the other side of the building where there was a line twice as long as the one I left. I asked persons around me if they had voted here before, most had not. So I informed them of the 2 precincts and the idea of provisional ballots. Many people went to the other line, but how many didn''t? We have a VERY sensitive prop 8, against gay marriage and I can''t help but wonder how many votes won''t count because of the unnecessary provisional voting at this precinct.

My non-expert advice is: talk to the poll workers. Offer to make them some homemade signs to make things clearer a lot of times the poll workers don't even realize these are obstacles. If they refuse, then its time to escalate things up the chain of command.

3:14pm Grrrrr Voters complaining of being dropped from the voter rolls in Ohio. This is why same day registration is so needed.

2:51pm Multiple problems in Colorado, including poll workers asking for unnecessary ID and voting machines not working in Denver.

2:21pmSo tired of people claiming the Youts don't vote, and then have things like this happen:

Young adults are also facing obstacles in trying to vote today. More than 5,600 people, mainly Virginia Tech students, are registered to vote at precinct E1 in Blacksburg, Virginia (Montgomery County). That number is nearly double what the state law allows for polling stations and the lack of an additional polling station is causing substantial delays. In addition, the polling place is 6.5 miles away from campus at a tiny church located off the main road.

When is this country going to stop making it so darn hard to vote?

2:14pm Native Americans in Whiteriver, Arizona, are being denied the right to vote because their drivers licenses have post office boxes.

2:11pm Forgoing real lunch in favor of junk food found downstairs. All for you dear readers, all for you.

1:51pmJill over at Jack and Jill Politics have up an email from Election Protection listing out several of the problems they are seeing. Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Florida are all reporting problems. I think I see a pattern in here...

1:41pm Ernest over at Colorado Independent is reporting that at one polling location in Denver, all the voter names between G and T were missing. Argh. I'm going to chalk that up to election official stupidity not nefarious election stealing tactics.

1:34pm MNCampaignReport is telling us that both congressional campaigns had to asked to leave a polling station and were threatened with citation. This is an election, not a rumble folks!

1:17pm And from the other side of the voter intimidation tactics, RedState has a post up saying that "Black Panther wannabes" are intimidating voters at the polls.

1:02pm A commenter at Colorado Independent reports that there is possible voter intimidation going on in Greeley, CO. Reports of Weld County sheriffs hanging around Latino polling places. I hope its not true, but if it is, Colorado law enforcement should be outraged that some of their own are using their badges for partisan and sleazy purposes.

12:53pm From Election Protection:

As of 12:30pm, Election Protection has received over 41,000 calls to the 1-866-OUR-VOTE Hotline since the phones opened at 5:30am this morning.

12:42pm Iowa Independent reports that Republican attorneys challenged the absentee ballots of 50 Grinnell College students today, which could impact the battle for control of the Iowa House of Representatives.

The students in question reside in Iowa House District 75, where a heated campaign is being waged between incumbent Democrat Eric Palmer and Republican Danny Carroll.

In 2004, the same matchup was decided by a little more than 300 votes -- in Carroll's favor. Palmer won by a slightly larger margin in their 2006 rematch.

Grinnell students have a long history of supporting Democratic candidates. The elimination of 50 votes could tip the balance of the election to Carroll.

Poweshiek County Auditor Diana Dawley said the ballots were challenged on the grounds that the students do not reside at the address they listed when they registered to vote.

12:32pmVoting Machines stolen in California. From the field:

KNX 1070 is receiving multiple reports of voting problems in the San Fernando Valley. Voting machines and ballots are missing in polling places in Granada Hills. KNX1070's Desmond Shaw says police have arrived at a Granada Hills polling place at Woodley and Devonshire, where there are reports voting machines were stolen. Shaw reports the Ink-A-Vote mechanism is missing, not the actual paper ballots. The Los Angeles County Registrar's office says they are investigating the problems.

Shaw says the delays have caused approximately 75 people to leave the polling place without voting.

Elsewhere, voters in Stevenson Ranch are reporting computer voting problems. There is speculation this is due to rain-caused power outages.

12:07pm Update on the problems in Kentucky: Judge orders 100 machines shut down.

12:04pm This was just sent to me, problems in Florida:

At the Artserve Library in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Video the Vote volunteer Philip Alongi interviews voters who complain of faulty technology, poorly trained pollworkers, and voters leaving before casting their ballots.

http://videothevote.org/video/642/

11:57am Bring your flip cam to the polls with you! And check other voters' experiences at Video the Vote.

11:55am McCain camp is suing Virginia to force them to count late military ballots. So much for hoping for an early night.

11:51am More from voting rights groups, this time in Ohio:

Columbus, Ohio, 10:45a.m.: Election observer Werner Lange reported from
Trumbull County that there was a "major problem in my precinct, 3A."
Lange wrote, "All of the votes cast using a paper ballot between the
hours of 6:30-8:15am (when I pointed out the flaw to the pollworkers)
are invalid because none of the voters were asked, as required, to sign
the pollbook." Lange estimates that anywhere from 30-80 voters lost
their vote due to a pollworker's "colossal mistake."

11:46am Conservative blog Powerline reports problems in Philly:

It's a time-honored tradition in some Philadelphia precincts: commandeer the premises and start running ballots through the machines, voting for Democrats. It's happening again this year. Amanda Carpenter reports:

GOP Election Board members have been tossed out of polling stations in more than half a dozen polling stations in Philadelphia because of their party status.

A liberal judge previously ruled that court-appointed Republican poll watchers could be removed from their boards by an on-site election judge, citing their "minority" status as cause.

It is the duty of election board workers to monitor and guard the integrity of the voting process.

Those on site as describing it as "pandemonium" and there may be video coming of the chaos.

Rick Leventhal: Well theyre saying that some Republican poll watchers were asked to leave this polling place because the Judge of Elections said that the Democrats are the party of power here, that the Republicans were in the minority and would have to leave --this is what the Republican poll watchers said when they showed up here. Democratic poll watchers said thats not the case, that she was also asked to leave and that they would all be allowed in intermittently. When I went inside I spoke with one of the people running this polling place, she said listen its really crowded in here, were trying to make room for the people who are actually doing the voting, were just trying to keep things orderly. And in fact, we can show you can see the back door here, you can see the back of some of the voting machines. It is crowded in there, I walked inside, took a look. There are some long lines. They're actually three precincts voting in this location. And apparently, this is certainly some sort of an argument going on here between Republicans and Democrats, but according to the Committee of70, which is an independent election watchdog group, they say there's no problem here, Bill.

11:33am Wendy Norris from Colorado Independent is reporting via twitter that already 700 CO voters have called about problems at the polls.

11:15am Elliott over at FireDogLake has your 2008 Election Resource Guide.

11:12am From Jay in NJ:

The reports of broken down voting machines in Willingboro NJ were true and led to some pretty crazy long lines.

This is the least white town in the entire NJ-3 and so the Adler campaign sent over coffee and donuts to the masses waiting and when we arrived with the food the entire crowd was chating O-BA-MA and pumping their fists in defiance. this went on for about an hour.

it was such a moving site that is sends goosebumps up my arms just thinking about it.

The machines are fixed and NO ONE budged from the line.

Good for NJ, for Obama, for my boss John Adler and (mostly) for democracy.

That's the report on the ground from NJ-3 where the Congressional seat is still very much a tossup.

11:03am Kentucky county halts handicapped accessible voting. That's not cool.

10:58am BarbinMD has a fun post up over at Kos on voter's statements on how long they are willing to stand in line to cast their ballot. My favorite is:

I've already waited 8 years. One day is nothing.

How long are you willing to wait?

10:53am From a voting rights group:

The machines in a Burlington Co NJ precinct are not working. Mechanic is
working on the machines.

In NY City lines are long and some polls have not opened because they do
not have enough machines.

Both reports according to CNN

10:51am Bill Shiebler reports for HuffPo that Penn State students are waiting in a 1,000 person line. Check out the video.

10:44am AllyBama reports in the comments that she was given a hard time about wearing an Obama t-shirt in Maryland. The Maryland's Secretary of State's Rumor Control clearly states that you are allowed to wear campaign paraphernalia while voting, but this does vary from state-to-sate. Word to the wise, to be on the safe side, don't wear your Obama Got Hope t-shirt to the polls or bring a jacket to cover up.

10:35am BTW Did I mention - go vote? Seriously, go vote.

10:31am College kids at Rutgers University are told the machines are broken and to come back later.

10:27am A friend doing election protection work tells me that they are asking people to call the governor and request that he files suit to keep the polls open 2 extra hours in Virginia. The number is (804) 786-2211. Please call!

10:17am Vote counting machines fail test in Michigan. From the Michigan Messenger:

Oakland County Clerk Ruth Johnson has appealed to the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC) for help after vote counting machines in four Oakland County communities failed a pre-election logic and accuracy test.


10:09am
Brad reported last night that there was widespread problems with touch screen voting machines in Nevada. Here's what he's got:

Attorneys monitoring the incident reports coming in to the hotline have taken no action in regard to removing the failed machines from service, despite reports of the presidential race not appearing at all on some ballots; voters having problems selecting their preferred candidates; machines not starting up at all; "paper trail" printers jamming or running out of paper, and; a number of machines at a number of sites which refuse to work at all.

9:57am From a friend working with Election Protection:

Virginia:
Massive statewide problems-dozes locations across the state where machines aren't working, creating long lines, and the polls aren't prepared (no paper ballots), also giving out provisional ballots which isn't correct. Issues over security of where paper ballots. All kinds of machines having issues.
In contact w/ local/state election officials.
Chesapeake, Richmond, Alexandria, Fairfax county, Virginia beach
Long lines, people being turned away
At least half a dozen places weren't open for an hour

Asking for provisional ballots to be counted as reg ballots
Clear directions to polls to use paper ballots backup ballots where possible
Get SBE to print extra ballots
Polls stay open
Voters don't leave polls
System is under resourced/lack of planning

Election protection is calling for polls open two hours later.

9:51am Why to hope for a landslide - people expect that if it' s close, it could get ugly. From Alternet:

That is because in several battle ground states the number of provisional ballots - which have to be checked one by one after Election Day to validate the voter's registration information before counting - plus the number of uncounted mail-in ballots are likely to exceed the margins of victory.

In other words, if it is a close vote, you can expect Republican and Democratic Party lawyers to start fighting over the state-by-state and county-by-county rules concerning provisional ballot eligibility. Provisional ballots were created by Congress after the 2000 election, but each state was given the leeway to implement its own rules for accepting or rejection these ballots.

9:43am Just got into the office - took me an hour and a half to vote in DC, and it was worth every minute. People came prepared - books, newspapers, blackberries, even folding chairs. You could tell that this crowd wasn't going anywhere. There was even a guy who set up a stand with coffee and tea and took orders from the line. Everyone in really, really good spirits.