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Jim Cole

Major voting problems few

Profile image for By Christina A. Cassidy and Eric Tucker
By Christina A. Cassidy and Eric Tucker

WASHINGTON — Voters around the country faced long lines, occasional broken machines and some hot tempers Tuesday, but as the polls began closing from east to west, there were no signs of the large-scale fraud, intimidation or hacking some had feared in the run-up to the presidential election.

The scattered problems mostly involved the sort of glitches that arise in every election, including discrepancies in the voter rolls, with no immediate indication of a snag big enough to meaningfully alter the overall vote count.

“The biggest surprise is how uneventful things have been with this large a turnout,” said Illinois State Board of Elections spokesman Jim Tenuto. “Everyone was expecting more problems than this — and nothing.”

In Texas, a computer malfunctioned at a polling place in suburban Houston, and voters were briefly sent to another site more than two miles away.

In key battleground North Carolina, a computer problem in the Democratic stronghold of Durham County triggered long lines when election officials had to rely on a paper check-in process. Several precincts there extended their closing times up to an hour

A computer glitch in Colorado forced in-person voters to cast provisional ballots, though there was no evidence the network was hit by hackers. Some people in North Carolina and Virginia complained they were not on the rolls despite registering through the motor vehicle departments.

And in Dover, New Hampshire, polls were staying open for an extra hour because the city mistakenly sent an email to voters with the wrong closing time.

Outside a Florida polling place, a woman campaigning for Donald Trump pepper-sprayed a Hillary Clinton voter.

There were reports of voters waiting for hours to cast their ballots in such states as Missouri and Utah. Some polling places in the Phoenix metropolitan area had more than 100 voters lined up at 6 a.m.

The voting unfolded amid repeated but unsubstantiated claims from Trump that the election would somehow be rigged. His exhortations to followers to watch for fraud at the polls gave rise to fears of vigilantism and harassment. There was also anxiety that hackers might attack voting systems.

“Overall, the story that everyone was expecting — mass reports of voter intimidation — hasn’t happened,” said Wendy Weiser, head of the democracy program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU’s Law School. “I’ve definitely seen an uptick in it ... but it’s not the overriding story of the election, which certainly ought to be a relief to many.”