CT Politics

Connecticut Politics

Thousands report voting problems

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Long lines weren’t the only problems voters are facing across the country Tuesday. Particularly in battleground states, reports of voting problems were flooding into vote-protection groups.

The Election Protection Coalition, comprised of more than 100 local organizations dedicated to protecting the right to vote, reported more than 70,000 complaint calls by 5 p.m. Eastern time.

A YouTube video making the rounds Tuesday depicted a central Pennsylvania voting screen in which the voter touches President Obama’s name only to see Mitt Romney’s name illuminated. The problem was determined to be a “calibration issue’’ and voters were able to touch a spot on the screen to illuminate Obama.

 New Jersey suffered a wave of voting turmoil from Hurricane Sandy. “New Jersey is a catastrophe,’’ said Barbara Arnwine, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “ We know NJ officials have made herculean efforts to make sure NJ voters can cast ballots.’’

 But, Arnwine and other civil rights leaders said, many New Jerseyans ran the risk of being disenfranchised because of the hurricane. They urged voters there to go to the polls and attempt to vote.

 True the Vote, the Houston-based organization leading a nationwide effort to root out what its leader, Catherine Engelbrecht, characterized as a wave of voter fraud, had only a minimal impact on Tuesday’s voting, they said.

 Engelbrecht had said True the Vote and its affiliates across the country would field as many as a million poll watchers to prevent voting by those unqualified to cast ballots.

 “I think voter determination is so strong out there that (TTV hasn’t) had the impact they desired,’’ said Arnwine. “It’s good for our nation to know we don’t allow an un-hooded Klan in 2012.’’

In a statement, Engelbrecht responded: “Arnwine and company should join True the Vote in the 21st Century _ they’d certainly save money. In the meantime, they’re punching in the dark.’’

Poll watchers affiliated with True the Vote were denied access to voting sites in Columbus, Ohio, in the wake of allegations they had forged signatures of candidates on applications to the local board of elections.

Engelbrecht insisted the affiliates’ actions were entirely legal and that no fraud had been committed.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported that voters in one north Philadelphia precinct voted at an elementary school — under a huge Obama mural. After protests, a judge ordered the mural covered.

Voting machines are set up in front of a mural of President Barack Obama that was left uncovered on Election Day at the Benjamin Franklin Elementary School polling location in Northeast Philadelphia Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. Republicans complained and a local judge ordered the mural covered. (AP Photo/The Philadelphia Inquirer, Kristen Graham)

Some poll workers in Pennsylvania apparently required photo ID before allowing people to vote — a violation of state law.
Other problems included friction at the polls between voters and poll watchers from “True the Vote,” a Tea Party-backed anti-vote fraud organization based in Houston.

In Florida, election officials in Tampa said they mistakenly called hundreds, and possibly thousands, of voters and mistakenly told them they had intil 7 p.m. Wednesday to vote, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

David McCumber, Washington Bureau Chief

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