Polls in U.S. states opened early this morning, and on this midterm Election Day, reports of voting issues are already rolling in.
Department of Justice officials, who have been through an Election Day or two, announced Monday that they would be monitoring compliance with federal voting rights laws in 35 districts in 19 states, including Sacramento County in California, Tarrant County in Texas, Gwinnet and Fulton counties in Georgia, and three more counties in Florida.
Meanwhile, federal agencies including Homeland Security and the FBI have opened a command center to help local election officials, The Associated Press reports.
“We want them to be as informed as possible,” said Matt Masterson, senior cybersecurity adviser with the Department of Homeland Security.
Dodge City, Kansas, voting outside of town
Polling place issues in rural southwest Kansas were reported weeks before Election Day.
In Ford County, where the county seat is the historic frontier town of Dodge City, the only polling place for the town’s 28,000 residents was placed outside the city limits, calling into question whether all residents have proper access to the polls, the Wichita Eagle reported.
Ultimately, a federal judge denied a request from the ACLU of Kansas to install a second polling location near the town, ruling that adding a second location with less than a week before the election could only lead to increased voter confusion, according to The Associated Press.
The line at the polling location was long on Tuesday morning, the Eagle reported, but some voters said they weren’t inconvenienced. Some, however, said they thought a city the size of Dodge City, 27,000 people, should probably have more than one place to vote.
In general, long voting lines were expected in Kansas and in neighboring Missouri, The Kansas City Star reported.
Border Patrol Election Day activity
Even before Election Day, potential voting issues, like this one in Texas, began to crop up.
The U.S. Border Patrol announced Monday that it would conduct an Election Day crowd control drill in El Paso, which is the hometown of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke. Several members of Congress from Texas have privately disagreed with the move, according to Texas Monthly.
Long lines in Florida
In Florida, where Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum led Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis by 7 points in a Quinnipiac poll cited by The Hill, one woman reported long lines caused by “more than half” of the voting machines going down at a precinct in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami.
Tuesday morning, local activist and trial lawyer Gabriel Dalemberte Tweeted, “HALF of the machines are broken here at Jose de Diego Middle School. HALF don’t work!”
The tweet got the attention of Miami Dade County, according to the Miami Herald, which responded that their polling workers were reporting no problems. “By the time a reporter got there about 45 minutes later, there were no signs of problems,” the newspaper reported.
A poll worker told the Herald that a light bulb went out in one of the voting booths, but the electronic vote-tallying machines were all working properly. Workers said two voters complained they had not received mail-in ballots, so were told to cast provisional ballots.
“We don’t want to turn anyone away,” one poll worker told the Herald.
Machine problems in South Carolina
Elections officials in Pickens County, South Carolina, were also experiencing technical difficulties with their voting machines Tuesday morning, according to The State.
Employees there blamed the issues on human error and handed out paper ballots for much of the morning, the newspaper reported.
False information on polling places
Election officials in New Jersey and Rhode Island warned voters against trusting third-party applications to tell you where to vote.
“Beware, false information regarding your polling location,” tweeted the New Jersey Department of State.
The New Jersey officials and Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea advised voters to only use state-run websites to determine their proper polling place.
This polling place locator from Vote.org links to all 50 state voter sites for determining your proper polling location.
Voting headaches in New York
Voters in New York and New Jersey used social media to report on a host of precinct problems, from broken scanners to polling places not opening on time. Workers at one New York polling station reportedly didn’t have the keys to get into the place.
Sorry, your polling place is closed
Election officials in Phoenix, Arizona, ran into an unusual problem on Tuesday — one of their suburban polling places was foreclosed on overnight, leaving workers scrambling on Election Day.
Poll workers couldn’t get to the ballots or the voting equipment inside a Golf Academy of America, located in a Chandler strip mall, USA Today reported. They had to set up a temporary polling place in the parking lot while they waited for a court order giving the local sheriff access to the building, the newspaper reported.
“There are people checking in with our SiteBook system on this beautiful Arizona day in the parking lot and they are voting,” Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes told USA Today.