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Long lines, machine errors mark elections; DHS says no 'widespread issues'

By Danielle Haynes
Long lines, machine errors mark elections; DHS says no 'widespread issues'
Volunteers wait outside a polling location in Leesbugh, Va., on Tuesday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Long lines near Atlanta, power outages in Tennessee and a ferry to the rescue in Rhode Island. Election Day wasn't going as smoothly as some voters hoped, but the Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday there were no "widespread issues."

A DHS official told reporters that the department was aware of some problems with voting machines across the country, but it was on par with previous elections.

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"They did not share any widespread issues or trends with specific machines," the official said, describing the problems as "typical machine issues."

Ballot machine problems caused longer than normal lines at some voting precincts in Georgia. In Snellville, a suburb of Atlanta, some electronic voting machines failed, forcing people to use paper ballots. Gwinnett County officials told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution the problem was with a program that verifies voters at their precincts. Some voters reported that their home addresses didn't match their precincts.

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Voter James Herndon of Decatur, Ga., told CNN his wife "put the card in the machine and it shot it out and said 'error' when she turned it in and asked what was up." He said a poll worker told her the machine said she already voted and gave her a provisional ballot.

Lines snaked around buildings in some precincts, with voters waiting hours to cast their ballots. One precinct in Gwinnett County was extending hours because of the problems.

Later Tuesday, the Georgia NAACP won a lawsuit to extend voting times in two precincts near Spelman and Morehouse by three hours. Polls there will close at 10 p.m.

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The state has come under scrutiny in recent weeks over allegations of voter suppression. The state's so-called "exact match" law put some 50,000 early votes on hold, prompting multiple lawsuits.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a Republican, has been criticized for overseeing the voting troubles even though he's running for governor against Stacey Abrams. Kemp also had trouble voting Tuesday when his voter card was read as "invalid" by an electronic voting machine.

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In Texas, which also had some early voting problems, there were issues with electronic voting machines in Harris County, where the county seat is Houston. The Texas Tribune reported at least 18 polling locations in the county either didn't open on time or only had some of their voting machines working.

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Voter Crystal Brumfield told the Tribune that all the machines at her precinct stopped working while she was in line.

"They were not charged overnight or...had been charged but stopped working for some reason," she said. "Their direction was, if you can, just come later because they're not expecting them to be fully charged until the afternoon."

Thunderstorms knocked out power to thousands of customers in Knox County, Tenn., Tuesday morning, leaving some voters with paper ballots as the only option. The Tennessean reported voters were moved outside because it was too dark inside Cedar Bluff Middle School to fill out the paper ballots.

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The Rhode Island Board of Elections, meanwhile, said a voting machine on Prudence Island broke. Election officials sent a replacement by ferry.

"Ballots are secured and voting is continuing uninterrupted," the board said.

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In terms of possible foreign interference on Election Day, DHS Secretary Kristjen Nielsen said there have been "intentional misinformation campaigns," but that the 2018 midterms were "the most secure election in the modern era."

"Do not try," she warned potential meddlers. "Our democracy is not a tool to be used against us and we will not tolerate any attempts to interfere in our elections."

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