III. Early Voting Updates
With Election 2016 just about 10 days away, millions of Americans have already cast their vote either through early voting, absentee voting or vote-by-mail. What this says about Election Day turnout is anyone’s guess, but early voting is giving us a bit of foreshadowing to some of the issues that voters and elections officials could face on November 8.
This is just a snapshot of some of the issues that have cropped up since early voting began. We also hope you enjoy the snapshots of some of our favorite future voters rocking their “I Voted” stickers.
Early voting began in the Sunshine State on Monday, although a record-breaking number of voters were already casting their ballots at home. There were reports of long lines in some areas, but relatively few reports of problems.
Polk County did report a larger-than-normal call volume to the supervisor of elections office on Monday which actually caused delays for some callers to get through.
An early voting site in Volusia County had to be moved when elevators in the historic courthouse stopped working and therefore the site became inaccessible.
Early voting kicked this week and while it was relatively smooth, like many other places there were large crowds at some voting centers.
In Jefferson Parish, voting turned into a two- to three-hour ordeal for some voters in Kenner when an Internet outage slowed the voting process.
And like in other states, some voters complained of issues with voting machines, but registrars in several parishes reported that there were no issues with the equipment.
Early voting kicked off for the very first time in Massachusetts, and so far, voters have embraced the opportunity. There have been no reports of problems, although our former colleague Dan Seligson was a bit concerned to discover the City of Arlington is using a recycling bin to store the cast paper ballots.
One early voting site in Springfield did run out of ballots on Tuesday and although additional ballots were delivered, voters were delayed about 15 to 20 minutes.
Like most other states offering early voting, North Carolina has seen great enthusiasm for the process which has translated into long lines.
Also like some other jurisdictions, there have been some claims of voting machines flipping choices. Elections officials have warned that some of the machines are very sensitive and large and/or sticky fingers could be at fault.
A formal complaint was filed in New Hanover County over a voting machine that voters Barbara Highsmith claims twice flipped her choice.
Mecklenburg County was forced to pull malfunctioning machines out of at least one polling place.
In Granville County, an early voting site at Tar River Elementary was left unlocked over the weekend. Elections director Tonya Burnette said election officials and representatives from both political parties met at the site Sunday to double-check completed ballots and make sure no one had tampered with equipment or ballots. They found no evidence of any problems.
And we’ve had our first reported polling place altercation of the general election, this one between two public figures in Surry County.
Tennessee counties are seeing early voting in record numbers and while there have been crowds, there have been relatively few issues with the process.
The Shelby County election commission voted unanimously to open the county’s 21 early voting sites an hour earlier each day beginning on Thursday in order to accommodate everyone.
The biggest issue that seems to have cropped up is the dreaded ballot selfie.
Stars are people too and they vote! Early voters in Shelby County were excited to encounter Justin Timberlake when casting their ballots this week. Timberlake took to Twitter and posted “I just flew from LA to Memphis to #rockthevote” along with a ballot selfie, which, by the way are technically illegal in Tennessee. Initially the Shelby County DA’s office indicated that it would investigate, but then retracted that statement. The selfie has since been removed from social media.
Early voting kicked off with huge numbers and long lines in the Lone Star State this week. Several counties, including Travis, Williamson and Harris reported record-breaking numbers on day one. Turnout has been so big in Fort Bend County that early voting hours will be extended on Thursday and Friday.
Electronic voting machines in Denton and Nueces counties each experienced some first-day slowdowns, which in turn slowed the overall process, but those problems were resolved. Hays County also had some voting machine issues which turned out to be a faulty cable.
And in what is sure to be foreshadowing to Election Day, some voters took to social media claiming that voting machines had flipped their choices. The claim had elections officials in may counties including Tarrant, Lubbock, Jefferson, Brazos, and Potter counties issuing statements about the integrity of the voting machines.
On the voter ID front, there have been some reports of confusion at the polls. For instance, in Bexar County, old posters were in more than a dozen polling places providing the wrong information about what ID is acceptable. There have also been reports of poll workers not providing the correct information.