Long lines, enthusiasm but no major problems as U.S. votes

People wait in line to vote at Adam Hall near Auburn Corners, Ohio, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)People wait in line to vote at Adam Hall near Auburn Corners, Ohio, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
People line up outside a polling place to vote in the 2020 general election in the United States, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Springfield, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)People line up outside a polling place to vote in the 2020 general election in the United States, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Springfield, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
A woman waits to vote, Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, in Miami. Who can vote and which ballots will be counted has become as much of a story this election year as the intense and turbulent race for president. Concerns about Election Day chaos at polling places may be tempered by the record-setting early vote in most of the country, as voters sought ways to safely cast their ballot amid a global pandemic. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)A woman waits to vote, Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, in Miami. Who can vote and which ballots will be counted has become as much of a story this election year as the intense and turbulent race for president. Concerns about Election Day chaos at polling places may be tempered by the record-setting early vote in most of the country, as voters sought ways to safely cast their ballot amid a global pandemic. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
People line up on a playground before the door of a polling place opened at an elementary school in the Manhattan borough in New York Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)People line up on a playground before the door of a polling place opened at an elementary school in the Manhattan borough in New York Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
Voters cast their ballots on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, at Willow School in Lansing, Mich. (Matthew Dae Smith /Lansing State Journal via AP)Voters cast their ballots on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, at Willow School in Lansing, Mich. (Matthew Dae Smith /Lansing State Journal via AP)

Amid a global pandemic that defined a tumultuous presidential campaign, voters across the U.S. on Tuesday braved worries about getting sick, threats of polling place intimidation and expectations of long lines caused by changes to voting procedures.

The U.S. was on pace to exceed the 2016 presidential vote, driven largely by the nearly 102 million ballots cast ahead of Election Day, part of an early-voting push prompted by the pandemic. And coronavirus cases were on the rise, with new daily confirmed cases up 43 per cent over the past two weeks in the U.S., according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

“A lot of people were fearful to come out and vote today and for me I didn’t want fear to stop me from voting on Election Day,” said Sadiyyah Porter-Lowdry, 39, who cast her ballot at a church in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Minor problems occur every election, and Tuesday was no different given the level of voter enthusiasm, the decentralized nature of U.S elections and last-minute voting changes brought on by the global pandemic. But the stakes were high with so much scrutiny on voting this year and the potential for further litigation.

President Donald Trump has already threatened legal action to prevent the counting of ballots that arrive after Election Day, which some states allow. Meanwhile, concerns about mail delivery delays prompted a federal judge to order postal workers in major cities to sweep processing facilities for any remaining ballots before the end of the day.

Officials have already warned that counting ballots could take days due to the avalanche of mail votes, which take more time to process and could result in another round of court battles.

On Tuesday, there were long lines and sporadic reports of polling places opening late, along with equipment issues in counties in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas and Georgia.

There were also reports, as there are every election, of efforts to discourage people from voting that surfaced in robocalls in a few states. The FBI was investigating.

But there were no signs of large-scale voter intimidation or clashes at the polls as some had feared given the level of political rancour this year.

“I would say it is blissfully uneventful,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel told reporters. “We’ve had virtually no disturbances of any kind.”

In the months leading up to Election Day, election officials had to deal with a pandemic that has infected more than 9 million Americans and killed more than 230,000, forcing them to make systemic changes largely on the fly and with limited federal money. Meanwhile, Trump repeatedly sought to undermine the election with unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud.

He has particularly targeted the crucial battleground state of Pennsylvania, after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed — at least for now — a three-day extension for receiving and counting absentee ballots. Over the weekend, Trump said that as soon as the polls close there on Tuesday, “We’re going in with our lawyers.”

Election officials had hoped that if enough people voted early, it would ease some of the problems that states experienced during the primaries, when voters waited hours in line to cast ballots. That appeared to be what transpired Tuesday, although some problems seemed inevitable.

Hand sanitizer on voters’ hands caused a ballot scanner to jam at a polling place in Des Moines, Iowa. The machine was fixed in about an hour, and poll workers moved the sanitizing station farther back in the line so voters’ hands would be dry when they first touched the ballots.

In Pennsylvania, a judge in Democrat Joe Biden’s hometown of Scranton extended voting at two precincts inside an elementary school for 45 minutes past the normal 8 p.m. close of voting, because machines had been down earlier in the day, said Lackawanna County spokesman Joe D’Arienzo.

There were also a few other issues with voting technology. Electronic pollbooks from the vendor KnowInk failed in Ohio’s second-largest county and in a small Texas county, forcing voting delays as officials replaced them with paper pollbooks.

Even though problems were expected, voters were still frustrated.

“We’ve had four years to prepare for this,” said Jenny Harris, who encountered problems with touchscreen voting machines at her polling place in Atlanta. “And the fact that we’re still having issues on the day that we go to the polls, it blows my mind.”

Those who did vote on Election Day included some who wanted to vote by mail but waited too long to request a ballot or didn’t receive their ballots in time.

Kaal Ferguson, 26, planned to vote by mail but was concerned he hadn’t left enough time to send his ballot back. So he voted in person in Atlanta, despite worries he could be exposed to COVID-19 by fellow voters.

“Obviously everybody has their right to vote,” he said. “But it’s kind of scary knowing that there’s not a place just for them to vote if they’d had it, so you could easily be exposed.”

Others were likely persuaded by the president’s rhetoric attacking mail voting or simply preferred to vote in person after reports surfaced over the summer of mail delivery delays following a series of policy changes implemented by the U.S. Postal Service’s new leader, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major GOP donor.

“I don’t want to see no mailman. I like to stand here, see my own people, wait in the line and do my civil duty,” said James “Sekou” Jenkins, a 68 year-old retired carpenter and mechanic who waited about 15 minutes before polls opened in West Philadelphia and voted for Biden about an hour later.

READ MORE: Canadians await U.S. election in fear, as poll reveals anxieties about aftermath

On Tuesday afternoon, a federal judge in Washington D.C. ordered U.S. Postal Service inspectors to sweep 27 mail processing facilities for lingering mail-in ballots and send out those votes immediately. The order, which includes centres in central Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlanta, south Florida and parts of Wisconsin, followed concerns the agency wouldn’t be able to deliver ballots on time. Postal data has shown service in some battleground areas severely lagging.

“The slowdown and compromising of the U.S. Postal Service was a concern,” said Rebecca Kraft, a 41-year-old Milwaukee resident who voted in person. “So I said ‘All right, if I’m feeling healthy, I am going to go do it at the polls just to make sure.’”

Misinformation about election procedures and threats of foreign interference also clouded the run-up to Election Day. States hammered out plans for protecting against cyberattacks, countering misinformation and strengthening an election infrastructure tested by massive early voting and pandemic precautions.

The cybersecurity agency at the Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday that it had seen no apparent signs of any malicious cyber activity, at least not yet. But officials with the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency also said it was too early to declare victory.

“It has been quiet and we take some confidence in that but we are not out of the woods yet,” said a senior CISA official, speaking on condition of anonymity to brief reporters about ongoing nationwide election monitoring efforts ahead of an official evaluation.

___

Cassidy reported from Atlanta and Izaguirre from Lindenhurst, N.Y. Associated Press writers Nicholas Riccardi in Denver, Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus, Ohio, Natalie Pompilio in Philadelphia, Ben Fox in Washington, Sophia Tulp in Atlanta and Sarah Blake-Morgan in Charlotte, N.C., contributed to this report.

___

Associated Press coverage of voting rights receives support in part from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

Christina A. Cassidy And Anthony Izaguirre, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Donald TrumpJoe BidenUSA

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Several students in the Nisga’a Elementary Secondary School community have tested positive for COVID-19. (Nisga’s Lisims Government photo)
Students at Nisga’a school test positive for COVID-19

Families with students requested to self-isolate

The Terrace River Kings lost 9-3 to the Quesnel Kangaroos on Mar. 2, 2019 in the final CIHL playoffs. (Lindsay Chung Photo)
Central Interior Hockey League cancels 2020/21 season

League open to playing exhibition games if possible

The Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine is looking for participants to complete an access to education survey. (Submitted Photo/Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine)
Have something to say about education? The regional district wants to hear from you

RDKS is seeking participants in an access to education survey

Caledonia Secondary School Principal Keith Axelson presents the Governor General’s Academic Medal to Sydney Webb. (Submitted Photo/Robin MacLeod)
Sydney Webb wins 2020 Governor General’s Academic Medal

Webb is studying nursing at the Univeristy of Northern British Columbia

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
41 positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Barrels pictured outside Oliver winery, Quinta Ferreira, in May. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
B.C. Master of Wine reflects on industry’s teetering economic state

Pandemic, for some wine makers, has been a blessing in disguise. For others, not so much.

An employee of the Adventure Hotel was taken to hospital on Nov. 20 after she confronted a customer of Empire Coffee about not wearing a mask. File photo.
Nelson hotel employee suffers heart attack after being assaulted in anti-mask incident

An accountant at the Adventure Hotel is in hospital in Kelowna

Most Read