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What's Going on at the Polls? A Round-Up of Voting Problems

Long lines, hours-long waits, poll worker confusion, unregistered voters and more.

Confusion over polling place locations in hurricane-hit areas of New York and New Jersey. Long lines and hours-long waits in cities in Ohio and Virginia cities. Poll worker confusion in Pennsylvania over what voter ID is and isn’t required. Partisan poll watchers making voters nervous in Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.  And plenty of people who thought they were registered to vote only to discover that their voter file was out of date.

These are some of the trends that emerged from reviewing the first thousand-plus calls to the Eection Protection Voter Hotline (1-866-OUR-VOTE) in the first wave of voting on Tuesday morning—through 1:30 PM EST. (The ongoing reports can be found here.) Most calls were about problems that could be solved.

The worriesome calls catalogue what could go wrong and apparently is going wrong. But it is hard to tell whether these are a handful of isolated instances or a reflection of a larger trend. What follows are the reports as recorded by Election Protection volunteers—who in most cases are lawyers volunteering for Election Day.

1. Long Lines/Voting Machine Shortages

• Richmond, Virginia: “Poll worker called to report issue with lack of voting booths and long lines at polling place.”

• Norfolk, Virginia: Voter is frustrated because she has been standing in line to vote for two hours. The polling place does not have enough machines to accommodate the number of people that they knew would be voting today. She thinks this is a voter intimidation problem.”  

• Columbus, Ohio: “Poll monitor reported that the lines at Driving Park were long, that there too few poll workers, and that the line for A-D was much longer than the others.”  

• Dayton, Ohio: “1. Not enough parking 2. Doorway partially blocked, door is closed, hallway james 3. 4 or 5 empty machines; poll worker doesn't know how to operate machines. 4. Poll workers slow & poorly trained. 5. Extremely long line of people -- people getting anxious and angry.”  

• Akron, Ohio: “The polling location at the Lawton Community Center (1225 Lawton St) at the corner of Hartford and Lawton has broken machines. People who had been waiting in line since 6:30am were still in line at 11am. They were told there were no regular paper ballots and some filled out…”

• Pine Island, Florida: “A community of retirees with lines more than 3hrs long because there is only one scanner available. Ppl are voting but because they're trying to scan their ballots (which are 4 pages long), the lines are longer than they need to be and voters are getting discouraged.”

• Oakpark, Michigan: “Very long lines, voter has been waiting two hours with many peiople in front of her, broken machines, only one is available.”

2. Voter Registration/Voter Impersonation

• Prince Edward, Virginia: “Her mother went to the polling location with her voter ID. The mother was told that she already voted by absentee ballot. That is false. Her mother never voted. The polling location will not let her vote.”  

• Unidentified location, Virginia: “Voter was sent a registration card for polling place near her school, but she was not on rolls at polling location. She cast a provisional ballot. She later looked up her registration and determined that she was registered at her home (not school).”  

3. Voter Intimidation/Confusion

• Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: “Report of problems with intimidation reported on Fox News and websites in Philadelphia, in Wards 32, Div 13; Ward 33, Div. 14; Ward 56, Div.1; Ward 56, Div 22; Ward 32, Div. 28; ward 12; Div. 17; wWrd 39; Div.1; Ward 24, Div. 9; Ward 18, Div. 25…” 

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