Megan E Quinn
Nat and World News
WASHINGTON—On Tuesday November 6, 2012 there were many problems for voters around the U.S. and mostly in Pennsylvania according to Curt Anderson from the Associated Press. This includes a confrontation involving Republican inspectors over access to some polls and a voting machine that lit up for Republican Mitt Romney when the voter had actually pressed the button to vote for President Barack Obama.
Meanwhile in Pinellas County, FL, one elections office mistakenly told 12,000 voters in robotic calls that the election was to take place on Wednesday November 7, 2012.
The Election Protection coalition of civil rights and voting access groups said they received more than 69,000 calls on Tuesday on a toll-free voter protection hotline. The majorities of complaints were about the extremely long lines to vote, but had gotten some more serious calls through this hotline as well.
“The calls have been hot and heavy all day long,” said Barbara Arnwine, president of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights under Law.
In Philadelphia, the Republican Party said 75 legally credentialed voting inspectors were blocked from polling places in the profoundly Democratic city, motivating the GOP to obtain a court order providing them access. Local prosecutors were also looking into the reports. Democratic Party Officials were not available with a comment in response to this instance.
Pennsylvania was also the site of what a state Common Cause official called “widespread” confusion over voter ID requirements. This year PA enacted a new photo ID requirement, but it was put on hold for Tuesday’s election by a judge due to concerns that many voters would not be able to meet the terms on time.
Barry Kauffman, executive director of Common Cause in Pennsylvania, said election workers in many places were demanding IDs from potential voters even though they are not required. However, it is unclear just how many people may have been turned away or discouraged from voting. “There seems to be a lot of confusion about voter ID. Apparently the poll workers were not adequately trained,” Kauffman said.
Also in Philadelphia, a judge ordered a mural of President Barack Obama be covered up after a Republican election worker snapped a picture of it at a school polling place, according to a statement from the Republican Party.
Meanwhile, voters in several storm-ravaged areas in New York and New Jersey expressed relief and excitement at being able to vote at all, considering the devastation from Superstorm Sandy. Lines were long in Point Pleasant, N.J., where residents from the Jersey Shore communities of Point Pleasant Beach and Mantoloking had to cast their ballots due to damage in their hometowns.
Any voting problems are being closely monitored after months of legal and political battles over more voter ID restrictions and other laws. Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, said even in states where the restrictive laws have been blocked or delayed, many people still think they are in effect. “The laws were struck down but the confusion remains,” Waldman said.
The Justice Department will have at least 780 observers at key polling places in 23 states to ensure compliance with the 1965 Voting Rights Act and look into any allegations of voter fraud.