STEVE INSKEEP, host:
We can now tell you that voting problems were not as great yesterday as some people had feared. They could still turn out to matter in close races, as we've been hearing in places like Virginia and Montana. Elsewhere, some glitches affected tens of thousands of voters.
NPR's Pam Fessler reports.
PAM FESSLER: What problems there were showed up almost immediately as poll workers went to open precincts across the country, many with new equipment and new voting procedures. In Cuyahoga County, Ohio, homeless advocate Brian Davis(ph) was monitoring a polling site that he said opened an hour late. Even then, all the voting equipment didn't work correctly.
Mr. BRIAN DAVIS (Polling Site Monitor, Ohio): The first guy who voted, actually, was a Cleveland police officer, and it didn't print at all at the end. And I'm concerned - he was concerned - that his vote didn't count, because nothing printed out.
FESSLER: Eventually, Davis says, the machine had to be shut down. The county reported problems in more than 40 precincts, and later a judge ordered some to stay open an extra hour and a half to make up for the delays.
There were also late openings and machine problems in Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Illinois. In Delaware County, Indiana, which includes Muncie, a programming error delayed balloting for more than two and a half hours. Circuit Court Judge Wayne Lennington was furious with the company that provided the equipment.
Judge WAYNE LENNINGTON (Delaware County Circuit Court, Indiana): This could all have been avoided if they would have checked them yesterday, right? If they had checked the cards and the cards worked, that's all they needed. But they've got their money, and they're gone.
FESSLER: And in Denver, Colorado, computer crashes and power outages led to long lines throughout the day.
Ms. SUE HOOPFER(ph): This is a shock. I didn't realize how bad it would be.
FESSLER: Sue Hoopfer returned to one site yesterday evening to try again to cast her ballot.
Ms. HOOPFER: I tried three places close to my work, and they were all an hour and 20 to an hour and 40 minutes, and I just didn't have the time between errands to stop and, you know, wait for that long.
FESSLER: In other areas, voters reported confusion over new identification rules. Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan said she was asked three times by a poll worker to show photo ID, even though she explained to the worker that a court had struck down the requirement.
Other voters said they showed up at the polls only to be told they weren't listed. New York Senator Hillary Clinton said one of those voters was her daughter, Chelsea, who was eventually allowed to cast a ballot. Another was Phillip Kirkland(ph) of Chattanooga, Tennessee, who was turned away from his polling place.
Mr. PHILLIP KIRKLAND: I've got my card here, my registration, ID, everything, and they said I'm not on the list. So I'm not able to vote.
FESSLER: That was disturbing to voting rights advocates, who said he should have been offered a provisional ballot. There were other disturbing reports, including those in Virginia, of numerous calls to voters, directing them to the wrong polling sites. The state has asked the FBI to investigate.
Still, Doug Chapin of the non-partisan electionline.org - which monitors voting issues - describes many of yesterday's problems as fender benders, since voting in most places went smoothly. But he said some of the problems could prove to be more serous.
Mr. DOUG CHAPIN (Electionline.org): Some of these little fender benders will loom larger if, for some reason, they're involved in a very close election. But a two-hour polling delay is inconvenient and something worth watching, but it's especially important if that figures in one or more close races the rest of election week.
FESSLER: And indeed, lawyers were out in force yesterday - watching and taking notes just in case. Pam Fessler, NPR News.
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