Election meddling rumors have seeped into the minds of registered voters, with many U.S. citizens pledging to get out and vote not only to support their candidates, but also to counter any foreign attempts to influence the election’s outcome.
The number of American citizens showing up to the polls surged amid heightened tensions around the 2018 midterm elections. Reports on the high turnout rates have been consistent in the past couple of days, indicating that the public was aware of the importance of this vote.
And, despite making their voices heard, Americans faced quite a few obstacles in their crusade to pick the right lawmakers and leaders for their states. A notable problem, at least in some areas, was the aging of the voting equipment.
Reuters reports that officials in Philadelphia and North Carolina saw scattered voting machine outages, while a number of voter advocacy groups reported “equipment-driven delays” in Florida and Texas.
By contrast, states with more modern voting equipment, like Virginia, reported fewer complaints of faulty voting machines than during the last congressional midterm elections, in 2014.
A nation-wide “election protection coalition” of more than 100 groups that ran a hotline to report irregularities said broken voting machines were recorded in at least 12 states on Tuesday.
In Maricopa County, Arizona, several polling stations suffered delays due to printer malfunctions. According to Kristen Clarke, head of The Lawyers’ Committee in the county, a suit to extend voting hours at 50 polling locations was in vain.
“We know for a fact that there are people in Maricopa County who were not able to have their voice heard this evening,” Clarke told reporters in a conference call.
Blackouts caused by high winds in Ohio left 21 locations in the dark. People resorted to flashlights to exercise their right to vote. In Knox County, Tennessee, eight of 79 locations were knocked out by outages. And in a very rainy New York City, voters encountered broken ballot scanners, while machines in North Carolina were struggling to read ballots, also due to high humidity.
Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Democracy Program at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, told reporters that delays were apparently most common in states with aging voting machines.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that those states are at the top,” Norden said. “I would also imagine that it’s worse just because this seems to be a much higher turnout election, and I think when you get a much higher turnout election, the same problem will look a lot worse.”