As we've noted many times over the years, problems with voting systems on Election Day don't necessarily come to light until after Election Day --- sometimes months (or even years) after --- and they are frequently marginalized as little more than "hiccups, glitches, snags and snafus," by election officials and media alike when they do occur, rather than the outright failures that they actually are.
Today, however, in a number of states where elections are being held around the country, problems with electronic pollbooks, rather than voting machines themselves, seem to be popping up early and are resulting in voters walking away without having been able to cast a vote.
Here are a few examples today out of Virginia, Texas and Ohio, so far (emphasis ours)...
In Prince William County, VA, via Prince William Today...
The problem was with computers that keep track of who comes to vote - prompting some voting delays this morning.
Prince William County Registrar Michele White said the problem prompted a small group of voters to leave a polling place at Leesylvania Elementary School, in the Woodbridge district, just as polls were supposed to open at 6 a.m.
[Prince William County Registrar Michele] White said the problem has to do with getting the computers to link so that when one voter checks in to vote, all computers at the polling place register the voter's arrival. The system is not using the Internet but is rather linked with a special modem.
Polling places are not using paper poll books as a backup, but voters' arrival will be recorded in at least one computer.
White said it's a problem voting officials are working to fix today and will likely have to further explore after the election to prevent future syncing problems.
In Houston, TX, via Click2Houston...
A loose wire is to blame for a voting mishap at one location, where some voters waited over an hour before they were allowed to cast a ballot.
"The polls have been stalled, I guess," said Alayna Pagnani Gendron. "I don't know what's going on."
At one point, the line at Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church on Waugh Drive stretched out the door, filled with voters who were not allowed to vote. "It was ridiculous. An hour and a half to get the polls open," said Brenda Lemoine.
Voters told KPRC2 there were two issues at play: first, the location's election judge was late because of a flat tire. Then, a machine used to confirm voters' registration would not work. Voters whose last name began with letters L-Z were assigned that machine and had to wait until the machine was fixed.
In Hamilton County, OH, via 700WLW News...
One voter from Springfield Twp. told 700WLW News he votes in every election but the new system showed him as not being registered. The poll workers let him cast a provisional ballot, but other voters have said they are experiencing the same problem. Another voter says he and others at his polling station in Mt. Healthy didn't get to vote at all because poll workers didn't have provisional ballots on hand.
There were also reported problems with poll workers having a difficult time using the new system which added to the already long wait times Tuesday morning. One voter reported waiting up to an hour-and-a-half to vote. Several voters reported to 700WLW News that they left their polling place without voting and are unable to return to the polls today.
One Hyde Park voter said he arrived just as the polls opened only to still be waiting at 7:45 a.m. and had to leave for work.
"...about a dozen people including myself left without voting," the voter told 700WLW News.
Another voter...said he and his wife waited patiently for over an hour while workers tried to repair a faulty E-poll book. Both were unable to remain waiting and not issued provisional ballots.
The state spent about 12.7 million dollars to help counties pay for the new E-poll books. That doesn't include the money the counties contributed to the new system.
Jon Husted replied on Twitter that he's aware and trying to help with the problems.
And that's Ohio on a slow Election Day. Buckle up (again!) for 2016, Buckeye State!
Of course, once again, it's not just electronic pollbooks that are leading to disenfranchisement and election results that can't be said to truly represent the electorate.
In Maryland, early voters forced to vote on electronic systems rather than paper, may have been screwed...via The Sentinel...
How that affects the candidates' vote totals remains to be seen after 613 people cast early votes in the run-up to the Nov. 3 election. Next Tuesday, most voters are set to cast paper ballots with all the candidates' names in the same place for mayor and council.
Which is just one more of the reasons why we always instruct you: Do everything you can to VOTE ON A HAND-MARKED PAPER BALLOT!
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)