Voting Machines Allegedly Switched Votes and Other Election Day Horror Stories

Irregularities and long lines reported as Americans cast ballots in midterm elections.

A voter inserts his ballot into the collection machine during the U.S. midterm elections at a polling station in McLean, Va., on Nov. 4. (Photo: Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Nov 4, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Eliza Krigman is a Washington, D.C.- based journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times and The Washington Post. She writes about politics, business, and lifestyle issues.

Technical problems with machines and long lines were just some of the obstacles Americans faced as they attempted to vote in the midterm elections on Tuesday. Reports of complications and glitches had already emerged by the afternoon in a handful of states, including Georgia, Connecticut, Virginia, and Maryland.

“We have seen some instances where machines are switching votes,” Khyla Craine, assistant attorney general counsel at the NAACP, told TakePart. Her organization is monitoring the election in collaboration with nonpartisan group Election Protection to root out voter suppression and other foul play.

Maryland and Virginia are the states where machines were allegedly swapping votes, Craine said, but she declined to share any details about which candidates might be affected. As a nonpartisan organization, Craine said, the NAACP is just focused on enabling voters to choose their preferred candidate.

Incumbent Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., has been raising questions about his race against Democrat Suzanne Patrick. Rigell, who is running to keep his seat representing Virginia's Second Congressional District, told reporters Tuesday that his office had received numerous calls about machines miscasting votes for his opponent. He called the trend “troubling” but stopped short of drawing any wider conclusion from it than that. Rigell, who is heavily favored to win reelection, is encouraging voters to double-check their summary page.

The most serious voting irregularity claims, however, may be coming out of Connecticut.

Gov. Dan Malloy, who is in an incredibly tight race against his Republican opponent Tom Foley, is seeking a court order to extend voting hours in Hartford by an hour. The city didn’t have voter registration lists ready when the polls opened, causing delays and, according to the Democrats, discouraging some from casting a vote.

"Because of delays and other problems at Hartford polling locations, we are filing a complaint in Hartford Superior Court asking that voting hours be extended to accommodate voters who were unable to vote or were discouraged from voting this morning," Mark Bergman, Malloy's campaign spokesman, told the Hartford Courant. Republicans were fighting the request in a hearing taking place Tuesday afternoon before the court.

Would-be Georgia voters may have been stymied by a website meltdown that left them scrambling for poll location information online this morning. Those looking up addresses on the secretary of state's site were met with an error message.

"We are experiencing difficulties with [our website],” Jared Thomas, the agency's spokesman, told CNN. “We're throwing resources at it to solve the problem."

Barbara Arnwine, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, blasted Georgia officials for being unprepared.

“The state of Georgia had a responsibility to ensure that their website and phone resources were operational and available to voters at all times, yet the website continues to have ongoing problems,” Arnwine said in a statement.

The website glitch isn’t the only problem hamstringing voters in Georgia, according to Election Protection. Eligible voters who filed registration applications in advance of the election have not been able to determine whether they can cast a regular ballot, the organization claims.

That population of voters “may be left with no choice but to cast provisional ballots, most of which are unlikely to be counted,” Election Protection said in a press release.