Hoping to beat the rush, voters flocked to the polls early this morning only to find parking lots already packed, turnout high and long lines already snaking around the block as scattered voting problems were reported in Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
In Virginia, reported problems were widespread, according to reports gathered by the Election Protection Coalition, a cooperative effort by more than dozen voting rights groups.
Voters said they encountered broken touch-screen machines and paper jams in the scanners that are supposed to read the ballots at polling places in Richmond, Alexandria, Newport News, Chesapeake, and Vienna. Polling places in Virginia Beach were not opened at 6 a.m. when they were supposed to be.
“They harangue us to vote and then they don’t have the capacity to handle us when we show up,” said a man standing with a cane in a two-hour line in Fairfax, Va.
Virginia election officials said three polling places opened late because of what she called “human error.” In some cases, voters came in from the rain and failed to properly dry their hands before touching their ballots, fouling the optical scanning machines.
In Pittsburgh, Pa., some lines were stretching several hundred voters long by 7 a.m. In Philadelphia, lines were equally long and at one polling place on in the east side of the city several voting machines were not working because there was no extension cord available to help them reach the electrical outlet.
Despite the scattered problems, most people held on, steadfast in their passion to vote, undeterred by rain, sore feet or the long waits.
Voting experts predicted a record turnout of 130 million voters, which would be the highest percentage turnout in a century. It could shatter the previous record of 123.5 million who cast ballots four years ago. If 64 percent of registered voters make their way to the polls, as some predict, it would be the highest percentage since 1908.
Florida Secretary of State Kurt A. Browning said the 1992 record of 83 percent turnout could be surpassed in his state. Pennsylvania officials believe as many as 80 percent of the state 8.75 million votes will show up at the polls, a record.
Lines and other problems began well before Election Day.
By Monday night, Election Protection Coalition received calls about more than 700 early voters in West Creek Community Center in Kansas City, who waited more than eight hours to cast their ballots. Lines for early voters in Atlanta left people waiting for nearly ten hours.
There were also reports of underhanded tactics. Several callers from Indiana, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland reported receiving automated phone calls with incorrect polling locations. Dozens of people in Colorado and New Jersey reported not receiving confirmation of their voter registrations or absentee ballots.
Yesterday alone, the hotline received more than 30,000 calls. Most were from voters in high population and swing states, including over 2,000 calls from Florida. The most common calls by far up until Election Day have been in regard to registration problems, followed by absentee ballot issues and polling place problems, which include extremely long lines.
Note: Video the Vote is a network of citizen journalists, independent filmmakers, and media professionals documenting voter problems at the polls. We will be posting links from them throughout the day.