About a Dozen US States Encounter Problems With Voting Machines

November 6, 2018 Updated: November 7, 2018

WASHINGTON/ATLANTA–Problems with voting machines were preventing some Americans from casting ballots in a dozen states in the congressional elections on Nov. 6, rights advocates said, citing complaints about registration problems, faulty equipment, and intimidation throughout early balloting.

Broken voting machines were reported in at least 12 states by noon on Nov. 6, according to an “election protection” coalition of more than 100 groups that set up a national hotline for reporting irregularities.

A Department of Homeland Security official told reporters the agency had received reports of “sparse” voting-technology failures, but said that, so far, they appeared to have had no significant impact in preventing people from voting.

In Georgia, where the election included a tight race for governor, the state sent investigators to look into problems with digital poll books, state spokeswoman Candice Broce said. Some voters were given provisional ballots instead of using regular voting machines, she said.

Postal worker Shirley Thorn, 56, said technical problems caused her to wait more than four hours at a polling station in Snellville, Georgia, to cast her ballot.

“I was determined I was going to cast my ballot today because it’s a very important election,” Thorn said.

Rights groups say provisional ballots are less reliable than regular ballots because they require information about voters to be verified before the votes are counted.

“We’re fully prepared to mount emergency litigation to push back against some of the systemic problems that sometimes rear their heads in our elections,” said Kristen Clarke, head of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which leads the election protection coalition.

The committee said it planned to demand that Maricopa County, Arizona, extend hours at polling places where systemic issues, such as problems with voting machine printers, caused the polls to open late or not at all.

By Julia Harte and Maria Caspani