By 11:30 a.m. EST, a national hotline for problems at the polls already had fielded 10,000 calls. They included reports from voters and volunteers in Georgia, Arizona, New York, Michigan and Texas. Polling sites didn’t open on time, machines weren’t working, and waits were interminable. In some cases, paper ballots weren’t available.
Election Protection, a coalition of more than 100 civil- and voting-rights groups that runs the hotline, 866-OUR-VOTE, expects thousands more calls before voting is done.
“It is a reflection of the great interest in this election cycle and also sadly a reflection of the problems and barriers that most voters have faced this election season,’’ said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which leads the coalition.
An array of federal agencies is monitoring the election as it unfolds, including the departments of Justice and Homeland Security, intelligence officials and the FBI. Federal and state officials – who received $380 million this year to beef up their election systems – have deployed sensors on local networks to try and detect intrusions.
As of noon EST, Homeland Security officials said there was nothing significant to report.
We’ll be updating this story throughout the day (and night) with any problems that surface as voting continues. Here are some key hot spots we’re watching:
Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes said the landlord of the building, which appears to be a strip mall, locked it overnight after workers already had set up the polling place. There are ballots inside the building, he said.
Fontes said his staff was working with the sheriff’s office to see whether they could forcibly enter the property to collect the ballots and equipment. In the meantime, he said, poll workers set up a temporary polling place in the parking lot.
Polling stations openedat 7 a.m. in the Sunshine State. For residents of the Panhandle devastated by Hurricane Michael just a few weeks ago, that means heading to an assortment of “voting supercenters” in churches, county election offices, and, in Panama City, a shopping center.
The region’s voters skew heavily Republican and could tip the balance in the Senate race between current Republican Gov. Rick Scott and incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson. They also could swing the governor’s contest between GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis and Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.
The state’s last two gubernatorial races were decided by fewer than 66,000 votes. There are roughly 200,000 registered voters in the handful of counties damaged by the hurricane, including 120,000 in Bay County, which includes devastated Mexico Beach, in addition to Panama City.
“I am pleased to report that all polls opened statewide on time, and voters are casting ballots in all precincts,” Secretary of State Ken Detzner said in a polling update. “Polls are open until 7 p.m., and any voters waiting in line at 7 p.m. will be able to cast a ballot.”
More than 5 million Floridians already have cast ballots by mail or in early voting, according to Detzner’s office. That far outstrips the 3.2 million who cast early or mail-in ballots in 2014 – a potential sign that turnout could be heavy today.
Common Cause, a member of the Election Protection coalition, said that as of 10:30 a.m., it had received reports of “voting machines going down in large numbers across the state.”
“We are working with local election officials to resolve these issues,” spokesman David Vance said. “As lines build, poll monitors are urging voters to stay in line.”
He said storms are also “complicating matters further.”
Battles over voting in the Peach State have been pitched long before Election Day, from allegations in recent weeks that voting machines in two counties weren’t registering votes properly to a court face-off over about 51,000 voter registrations placed on hold.
Democratic nominee for governor and former state legislator Stacey Abrams is virtually tied in recent polling with the Republican nominee, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp. The most recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Channel 2 Action News survey had Abrams with 46.9 percent and Kemp at 46.7 percent.
Abrams has called Kemp “a remarkable architect of voter suppression” during an appearance on “The Daily Show,” and her supporters fear all the controversy will actually intimidate voters and curb turnout. But some specialists say it may have the opposite effect.
Early voting has already smashed records: Kemp’s office reports nearly 2.1 million ballots cast. That’s compared with roughly 940,000 in 2014, according to Georgia Votes.
Voters in Greater Cincinnati encountered long lines and a few technical glitches as they cast ballots Tuesday morning. Election officials said voters and poll workers were confused by a change in the voting machine system that now alerts voters if they have “undervoted,” or left some races on their ballots blank. Electronic voting machines reportedly rejected some ballots that had not been completely filled out.
Ohioans are voting for a new governor, choosing between Democrat Richard Cordray and Republican Mike DeWine. They also have a Senate race: incumbent Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown is facing Republican Jim Renacci. Cordray and Brown are favored to win, according to USA TODAY’s outlook from Inside Elections.
Texans submitting ballots in early voting reported problems with voting machines switching some of their selections, a problem state officials said was connected to Hart eSlate machines used in about 30 percent of counties in the state. They said it can occur when users fill out and submit ballots too quickly. Voters should double-check their selections shown on a screen before submitting their ballots.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is taking on Democratic challenger Rep. Beto O’Rourke in one closely watched race in the state. Cruz had a 6 percentage point lead heading into Election Day in the RealClearPolitics average.
Another contest drawing national attention is between incumbent House GOP Rep. Pete Sessions and Democratic challenger Colin Allred, a civil rights attorney and former football player for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans. The polling average in that race shows Allred leading 46 percent to 42 percent.
Facing what may be his toughest bid for re-election to date, Gov. Scott Walker issued an executive order paving the way for the Wisconsin National Guard to assist state election officials in efforts to thwart hacking or other threats to the state’s elections.
He is tied with Democratic nominee Tony Evers 47 percent to 47 percent in the most recent Marquette Law School poll.
But by late morning, the biggest problems reported in the Badger State were long lines. Milwaukee election officials said that city alone was on track for a turnout of 65 percent of registered voters.