"Hang in There" America, Voting Could Be Tricky

Problems with everything from blackouts to Black Panthers reported

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AFP/Getty Images
    D.C. cops arrest a man for selling American flags without a vendor's license outside voting Precinct 22 in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington.

    In a year when forecasters anticipate record turnout at the polls, it's only natural that the country should experience a spike in problems. Mission accomplished.

    Some students at George Mason University awoke to find a message from school provost Peter N. Stearns advising them that Election Day had been pushed back to Nov. 5, reports Wonkette. Here's hoping that the kids at GMU are getting a good enough education to have ignored this hacker shenanigan.

    The "don't vote till Wednesday" meme is sadly a popular one across the land. Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia, and Pennsylvania have all been beset by this stupid lie, says Slate. And those are just the instances that are getting publicized.

    Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell urged voters to "hang in there" as state and country officials braced for a huge turnout in that hotly contested state.

    In the City of Brotherly Love, Fox News is reporting allegations of voter intimidation on the part of "two men in Black Panther garb, one of them brandishing a night stick" at a Philadelphia polling place.

    Reporters across the country from National Public Radio are passing on all sorts of dispiriting news. Five-hour waits due to high turnout and low preparation in St. Louis, in Virginia there have already been more than 1,000 complaints filed with voter watchdogs Election Protection, rumors out of Los Angeles of robocalls telling people that Hispanics are only allowed to vote between 2 and 4 p.m. and across Pennsylvania comes word of busted voting machines, power outages and a dearth of paper ballots.

    Hundreds converged on polling precincts in Missouri, a crucial battleground state. Norma Storms, a 78-year-old resident of Raytown, said her driveway was filled with cars left by voters who couldn't get into nearby parking lots.

    "I have never seen anything like this in all my born days," she said. "I am just astounded."

    In Virginia, where a Democrat has not won the presidential race since 1964, several counties experienced paper jams and balky touch-screen devices. In Richmond, a precinct opening was delayed because the person who had the keys overslept. Hundreds of people swarming the branch library cheered when its doors finally opened.

    In Iowa, there's some confusion over who exactly is behind the drive to disqualify college students' ballots, reports the Huffington Post.

    Meanwhile, heavy rain plunged a handful of Los Angeles polling places into the dark, forcing some to move voting booths outside until electricity was restored.  But voting didn't stop.

    TMZ, of all places, is reporting some voting sabotage in Florida. Four hundred people, including a 101-year-old woman, were waiting at a polling place in Deerfield Beach, Fl, where there was only one voting machine for the mostly African-American district. While people were in line  poll watchers noticed a man lying to Democrat voters, telling them they would have to vote somewhere else. 

    Also, according to TMZ, some of the voters said they were robocalled last night. The message –– Democrats weren't supposed to vote until Wednesday.

    Perhaps the most bizarre barrier to voting was in Minnesota, where a car which hit a utility pole in St. Paul's Merriam Park neighborhood. The accident knocked power out for over an hour to two polling locations. Ramsey County officials said voting continued at those sites, and the ballots were kept secure until the power was restored and the ballots could be run through an electronic machine.

    What is uncommon about Tuesday's contest is the sheer number of voters expected to descend on more than 7,000 election jurisdictions across the country. Voter registration numbers are up 7.3 percent from the last presidential election.

    Despite the wait to vote, which in some places was longer than two hours, folks standing in line appeared happy — and patient — about casting a ballot in this historic race. "Well, I think I feel somehow strong and energized to stand here even without food and water," said Alexandria, Va., resident Ahmed Bowling, facing a very long line. "What matters is to cast my vote."

    Some voting advocates worried that — tolerant voters or no — the nation's myriad election systems could falter late in the day, when people getting off work hit the polls.