Tags: polling | problems

Report: Problems Seen at Many Polling Places

By Tim Collie   |   Tuesday, 04 Nov 2008 12:09 PM

Problems at polling places were being reported around the country early Tuesday.

Viewers calling the CNN Voter Hotline reported late poll openings, long lines, and broken or not enough voting machines. Similar problems — though none seemingly devastating — were being discovered by other news organizations.

Still, many other voters commented about unusually brisk and efficient voting as millions across the United States cast their ballots in the presidential race as well as many House and Senate contests — an apparent benefit of early voting in many states like Florida.

In Kansas City, Mo., CNN iReport contributor Jessie Sargent said she had been waiting on line for three hours because precincts had received the wrong voter registration lists.

"I was there at 5 a.m. and was eighth in line," Sargent said. "I got up to the table, and they realized they had the wrong books. After swapping books, they [thought] that they still had the wrong books but later figured that the pages were in the wrong order.

In Shaker Heights, Ohio, just outside Cleveland, the first few voters at one precinct received ballots that were missing the presidential race.

"The first four voters [at that location] were given the wrong ballots. Those ballots were voided, and the four voters were given the correct ballots," said Kimberly Bartlett, a spokeswoman for the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.

Bartlett said she didn't know how the error occurred. "I can only assume they were given only part of the ballot — the second page of the two-page ballot with only state issues. The first page has the presidential race."

A handful of voting machines malfunctioned in Fairfield County, southeast of Columbus, Ohio, and the wrong paper ballots were delivered to two precincts, elections director Debbie Henderly told the Los Angeles Times

"Everybody's back to normal, now, I think," she said. "As normal as anybody can be for this day."

In Westlake, an upscale suburb west of Cleveland, there appeared to be confusion among voters, some of whom were seeing for the first time the return of old-fashioned paper ballots that replaced touch-screen voting machines used for the March primary.

Voters at the Church on the Rise in Westlake had a lot of questions about the paper ballots, according to Bob Mihocik, 59, who voted along with his wife, Jackie, and son, Dave, 26.

The paper ballots require voters to choose a candidate by filling in an oval. After finishing, the ballot is scanned to alert the voter to disqualifying duplicate votes — like voting for both McCain and Obama. If that happens, the voter can ask for a replacement ballot.

In Raleigh, North Carolina, one polling place couldn't open at 6:30 a.m. because its chief judge left the precinct's ballots in her grandson's pickup when he dropped her off, said Wake County Board of Elections Director Cherie Poucher. The grandson drove off, and the poll worker couldn't track him down, Poucher said.

The Board of Elections delivered new ballots, and voting began at 7:06 a.m., with about 300 people waiting in line, she said.

"When the board meets today, I expect that they will vote to keep the precinct open an additional 36 minutes," Poucher added.

Rain became a factor in Wake County after some paper optical-scan ballots got wet.

"When we put the ballot through the scanner it is soggy and doesn't go through," Poucher said. "One ripped and got stuck when the voter tried to get it out," causing the optical scanner to malfunction.

Poucher said voters with soggy ballots were being asked to deposit them in the emergency ballot box. When they are dried and the scanners are back up and running, the ballots will be put through the optical scanners, she said.

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