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E-voting problems mount; poll closings delayed in some places

'Vote-flipping' reports grow; some voters in Denver told voting to take two hours

By Computerworld staff
November 7, 2006 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - E-voting glitches in states across the U.S. slowed voting in the midterm elections today, and in numerous places, judges were asked to keep polls open later than normal to give people extra time to cast their ballots.

One e-voting critic working with the nonprofit group Common Cause said the biggest complaint coming in from voters on a national hot line was of "vote-flipping." He called the breadth of that problem a "national disgrace."

In Indiana, some polling places were ordered to remain open an extra two hours and 40 minutes after e-voting problems this morning delayed voting. In Colorado, state Democratic officials asked a judge this afternoon to allow polls in Denver to remain open two hours later than planned. That request was later turned down. And in at least two counties in Pennsylvania had polling places that were going to be kept open late.

Voters in areas in which problems arose often found themselves facing long lines, confused elections officials and poll workers struggling to get balky hardware working correctly.

Election 2006
In Colorado this afternoon, the Democratic Party asked the Denver District Court to allow polls to stay open until 9 p.m. local time in that city, according to party spokesman Brian Mason. He said the problems there involved e-polling books -- the devices that hold a database of registered voters.

In some locations, the presiding officials' computers were down, cutting off access to the e-polling books. "Many [voters] were turned away; some were given provisional ballots, but in some places, these ballots ran out," said Mason.

Although most of the problems were eventually addressed, the delays had a cascading effect that resulted in "huge lines" at polling places, he said. Voters in some locations had been told during the day to expect to wait two hours in line to vote, according to The Denver Post. The newspaper described "chaos" in some polling places and noted that election officials this afternoon called in all city employees with election experience so they could be sworn in as election officials on an emergency basis.

According to the newspaper, the request that polling places be kept open was denied this evening.

In Pennsylvania's Lancaster County, a judge ordered polling places throughout the county to remain open an hour later -- until 9 p.m., to ensure that residents could vote following earlier machine glitches, said Mel Newcomer, the county's solicitor. "No one was prevented from voting ... but there were some concerns that people might have left because of long lines" due to to the machine problems. "This just gives everyone the opportunity to vote."

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