Photo: Getty Images/Joe Raedle
Florida voters once again endured hours-long lines to cast ballots in parts of the state as what may prove to be a record turnout and lengthy forms made slow going of the election, as did machine failures and some electors walking off with the pens.The extreme length of some queues – most were up to a two-hour wait but a few ran much longer – drew protests from the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP). It said voters were waiting five hours to cast ballots at the Jesse J McCrary Jr elementary school in a largely African American area of Miami.
“It deters folks who, if they have a busy schedule, can’t afford to stand in line for hours,” said Derek Turner, the communications director of the NAACP. “But we’re seeing a lot of determination from voters. They are sticking it out in the lines.”
Voters at the the South Kendall Community church in Miami also reported waiting more than five hours. Some said there were fewer voting machines than in previous elections. The Miami Herald that some people were giving up waiting because they had jobs to get to.
Students voting at the University of South Florida in Tampa waited nearly two hours in part because many had to re-register their addresses to be able to cast their ballot in the district.
But delays were far shorter at other polling stations in the Tampa area which has often been the key to winning Florida in presidential elections.
Florida’s secretary of state, Ken Detzner, foresaw a record turnout for the election.
“I don’t have any projections to make except that we’ll probably have a record setting year in terms of turnout,” he said.
But the queues in Florida may yet be the basis of a court battle if the state proves decisive in the outcome of the election. Democrats have already filed a lawsuit over the long wait people were forced to endure during early voting over the past week which put down a marker for potential future court action.
Long lines were also reported in parts of Ohio, which may yet prove to be the most crucial of swing states. But queues were common across the country as people turned out in large numbers for what has been billed by some as the most important election in more than a generation.
Poll watchers are giving Florida special scrutiny because of its part in the 2000 presidential election fiasco that put George W Bush in the White House. Some reported problems that could also contribute to legal action if the result in the state is as close as in 2000, when it came down to just 537 votes.
Democratic congresswoman Kathy Castor said she visited at least 10 polling stations in her Tampa area district and that while the lines to vote were short some people were being turned away by officials because the address in the election register did not match their ID.
“What concerns me is that people can change their addresses without having to leave. But people are leaving without voting. We’ve taken this up with the supervisory folk,” she said.
Castor said she had seen “a few dozen cases” of the problem.
Independent poll watchers from a group called Election Protection said there was also an issue with voters being removed from the electoral roll without their knowledge because they did not cast a ballot in the last presidential election. They identified more than a dozen people at two Tampa election stations, at Fair Oaks Park and C Blythe Andrews Jr public library, alone.
Another group, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said that some voters who showed up at Tampa polling places were directed to another precinct. The committee blamed election officials, saying they gave wrong information to voters. Some then voted by provisional ballot but it’s not clear if they will be counted.
The failure of electronic ballot scanners in various parts of Florida led to votes being set aside for counting after the polls close at 7pm.
Independent watchdogs reported a problem with names missing from the voters’ roll in Philadelphia which they attributed to a failure to update the lists with people who registered recently.
Separately, a judge in Philadelphia ordered that Republican poll watchers be allowed into voting stations after it was reported they were barred from some locations by Democrats.
There were reports of election day glitches – faulty voting machines, absentee poll workers and long lines – in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where turnout was also high.
The city put out an urgent call for more poll workers after some did not turn up for their shifts.
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk
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