Election Day Updates: How Polls Are Working Around The Country
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
All right. Let me bring in another trusted NPR voice on elections, NPR's Pam Fessler, who has been monitoring voting today all over the country.
Hey there, Pam.
PAM FESSLER, BYLINE: Hi, Mary Louise.
KELLY: Give us a snapshot of what is going on in other states. Are we hearing of problems? Are we hearing of disruptions?
FESSLER: Yeah. I mean, surprisingly, things have been going very smoothly. And I would even say - knock on wood - that we're actually seeing fewer problems today than we do in a typical election. And I think part of that's due to the fact that, you know, so many people have already voted that in-person turnout isn't as high as usual. And also, I think the other thing is that everybody's been so expecting something to go wrong that many problems have been nipped in the bud. For example, we saw a few places that equipment malfunctioned - mostly poll books that are used to check voters in. But most of those problems were fixed pretty quickly, or election officials had paper ballots, you know, as backup. So voting proceeded without much disruption.
KELLY: And is there evidence that, so far, everybody who wants to vote is - has been able to vote today? I mean, I'm thinking of all of the concerns that have been raised through this long campaign about voter intimidation, about disinformation. People - they worried about that going into today.
FESSLER: Yeah. I mean, there's so much concern, especially that outside groups might try to intimidate voters outside the polling place, maybe even cause violence at the poll. But so far, you know, that, too, has not materialized, even though, you know, voting's still going on. What has materialized, though, has been some of this disinformation. And there were reports of robocalls that seem to have gone out to millions of people, telling them to, quote, "stay safe and stay home." It's not clear that these calls are actually related to the election, but authorities are worried that they might cause some voters to stay home, so they're investigating.
There were also some robocalls to voters in Flint, Mich., telling them that if they want to avoid lines, they should vote tomorrow, which, of course, they can't do. So local officials and voter advocacy groups have been trying to send out, you know, social media messages with the correct information so nobody's misled. But we really haven't seen the major incidents that people have been so concerned about.
KELLY: You know, I'm thinking that four years ago - 2016 - there was so much attention to Russian interference and what that might - what impact that might have on the election. And I'm just realizing this is the first moment of anchoring the show so far that I have had occasion to say the word Russia out loud. Have there been signs of problems of foreign interference from Russia, from any other actors?
FESSLER: You know, again, not today, even though, you know, the voting is not over, and the vote counting certainly hasn't begun. You know, officials were especially worried today that we might be seeing some kind of ransomware attacks or other infrastructure attacks that would really disrupt the voting, you know, maybe take down election websites or voter registration databases - haven't seen that at all. So far, so good. In fact, a top Homeland Security official this afternoon noted, you know, half kiddingly, that he was tweeting out pictures of his Election Day socks...
FESSLER: ...Which was some indication - right? - of how quiet things have been so far.
KELLY: Oh my goodness.
FESSLER: But, you know, there are still concern about what might happen, you know, when we start seeing results later on. But, you know, nothing really yet.
KELLY: So far, so good. Bring on the Election Day socks. OK. What about what might happen tomorrow and down the road? And I'm thinking specifically about legal challenges. What are you watching for there?
FESSLER: Yeah, that's still a possibility. And I think that, you know, it all depends on whether the results are close at all. And if they are, I think one of the areas that we probably will see challenges would be to some of these mail-in ballots. Today, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered the Postal Service to do a sweep of its facilities to make sure that there are no mail-in ballots sitting around undelivered so that they get delivered on time. It's not clear that his order's been followed, but, you know, this is really important because a lot of states - these ballots have to be in today. And in others, you know, they can still count them as long as they're postmarked by today, even if they arrive a few days later. But, you know, that also could be subject to further litigation.
And there was an interesting suit that was filed just in Montgomery County, Pa., right outside Philadelphia. Republicans are challenging the policy that the county uses of giving voters whose mail-in ballots have problems, such as missing signatures, a chance to correct them so that their votes still count. So this could be - they're saying that that policy is invalid and the ballots should be thrown out. So we may be seeing more of that.
KELLY: All righty (ph). Thank you, Pam.
FESSLER: Thank you.
KELLY: NPR's Pam Fessler.
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