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Voting Problems Crop Up as Americans Go to the Polls

Category: Political News,Politics

BETHLEHEM, Ga. — Problems with some voting machines and polling places cropped up around the nation Tuesday as Election Day voting began in midterm elections shadowed by questions about the security and fairness of the nation’s electoral system.

Officials in Gwinnett County, Ga. said Tuesday morning that four precincts had suffered technical delays as Election Day voting began in the intensely competitive race for governor between Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams.

Joe Sorenson, a spokesman for the county, said the precincts, four out of 156 in the county, had reported issues with the system that creates voter access cards for Georgia’s electronic polling system. At the three where problems lingered at midmorning, people were being allowed to cast paper ballots.

“We’ve got people who are voting with the paper ballots, and we’ve got people who are standing to wait for the machines to be fixed, and we’ve got people who said they are planning to come back,” said Mr. Sorenson, who did not have an estimate for when the three precincts would return to electronic balloting.

As voting began, problems were being reported in other states, including Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Arizona. In Pennsylvania, there were several reports of problems with voting machines, particularly in Philadelphia. At least four polling places in Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh, were changed in the last two days creating confusion.

And across much of the East and Midwest, storms were expected to keep some voters from the polls.

In Gwinnett County, Mr. Sorenson said that the one precinct that had resumed normal operations was likely to extend its hours because the poll manager did not offer paper ballots when the troubles were first detected. Mr. Sorenson said the county was asking a judge to extend the hours beyond the scheduled 7 p.m. closing time.

Gwinnett, a rapidly diversifying patchwork of suburbs near Atlanta, has long been a Republican stronghold, but Hillary Clinton carried the county in 2016.

Gwinnett is among Georgia’s fastest-growing counties, with new residents filling in long-established suburbs and extending into what was, not long ago, farm country. The county had about 805,000 residents in 2010, but the Census Bureau estimated last year that the population had increased to about 920,000 people.

Just more than half of the county’s residents are white, and about a fifth are Hispanic or Latino.

Nearly 2.1 million people cast their ballots early in Georgia, easily breaking the state record for a midterm election. But even that tally left open the possibility that millions more people would vote on Tuesday, when scattered rainstorms sporadically soaked parts of the state.

Although there were long lines at some polling places, other voters moved in and out with ease, casting their ballots during stops that lasted maybe 15 minutes.

Georgia’s elections system has been a contentious issue during the campaign between Ms. Abrams and Mr. Kemp, who, as the secretary of state, is the state’s chief elections administrator.

Ms. Abrams has accused Mr. Kemp and his allies of trying to suppress the vote through overzealous interpretations of state laws and procedures. Mr. Kemp has argued that he is simply trying to make it “hard to cheat,” and he has called allegations of voter suppression a “farce.”

Mr. Kemp, whose office has repeatedly clashed with Ms. Abrams and federal judges over elections procedures, rebuffed calls for his resignation from Democrats, who argued that he could not independently oversee an election in which he is a candidate.


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