High turnout rather than glitches or problems appeared to be the cause of the long voting lines in key states, but there were plenty of other problems around the country.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A big turnout, voting-machine breakdowns and misinformation about voter-eligibility requirements snarled balloting at many polling places Tuesday, forcing Americans to wait as long as five hours to vote.
The crush of voters apparently took many county election officials by surprise, despite heavy early voting in key states such as Ohio that might have been a tipoff.
Accusations over voting rights, irregularities and “inexcusable” election planning flew in the key states of Ohio, Virginia and Florida.
Virginia and Florida held polls open until midnight for voters who were in line when the polls were scheduled to close, but by then President Obama had been projected to win another term.
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In Pennsylvania, complaints poured in of voters being falsely informed of photo-ID requirements that had been set aside by the courts. In Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, dozens and perhaps many more voters’ names were missing from the rolls, creating suspicions of an improper purge of eligible voters’ names.
In Richland County, S.C., Sharon Bruce waited for nearly five hours to vote. In Missouri, the secretary of state’s office predicted turnout would be 72 percent, up from 69 percent four years ago.
“We were just hammered,” said Johnson County, Kan., Election Commissioner Brian Newby.
Voters across Virginia endured long waits — up to five hours in Chesapeake, said Barbara Arnwine, president of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and leader of the Election Protection coalition, which dispatched 7,000 volunteers, including 5,000 lawyers, to patrol the balloting nationwide.
Ohio’s system for verifying registered voters has drawn fire after 33,000 applicants for absentee ballots were wrongfully turned away. They were mistakenly told they were not registered to vote, an oversight state officials blamed on a data-sharing problem with the state Department of Motor Vehicles.
A court ruling delaying the effect of Pennsylvania’s new photo-identification requirement for voters wasn’t enough to snuff out its impact.
On Tuesday, a voting-rights group reported that signs and leaflets falsely stating that photo ID was required to vote were posted and distributed at polling places throughout the state. Scattered complaints came in of voters being required to produce photo IDs.
In Philadelphia, the Republican Party said 75 legally credentialed voting inspectors were blocked from polling places in the heavily Democratic city, prompting the GOP to get a court order giving them access.
Also in Pennsylvania, Department of State spokesman Ron Ruman said a voting machine in the central part of the state that switched a person’s vote from Obama to Romney was recalibrated and put back in use. Video of what he called a “momentary glitch” was seen widely on YouTube.
In Pinellas County, Fla., automated phone calls from the supervisor of elections advised more the 12,000 voters that Election Day was Wednesday, before the glitch was corrected.
Material from The Washington Post
is included in this report.