At the Polls: Some Reports of “Vote Flipping,” Other Problems

As voters lined up around the region to cast their ballots Tuesday, some citizens have contacted News4 to report problems they've encountered at the polls:


  • A YouTube video shows cellphone footage of a voting machine "flipping" votes from Republican to Democrat, said voter Chris Ball (@TheConservVoice) of Virginia Beach. The Department of Elections says it has received reports of similar instances of voters having a different selection appear after making their choice. In a statement to the News4 I-Team, the Virginia Department of Elections said, "The issues appear to be related to the touch screen calibrations" and that "voting machines exhibiting any issues are immediately taken out of serivce." Ball said he was told he needed to touch above the box to make his choice. He was ultimately able to vote for the candidate he wanted.
  • In Virginia, voters have to show photo ID for the first time. The News4 I-Team has heard from two callers who said they tried to show a passport and an employee ID, but were asked if they had ID with an address. They were ultimately allowed to vote after stating their addresses. However, Virginia voters do not need their addresses on their IDs. Acceptable forms of ID in the commonwealth include employee ID with name and photo (does not have to be government-issued); tribal ID; military ID, or any federal, Virginia or DMV-issued photo ID card. Those without a photo ID can obtain one for free.
  • Officials in Fairfax County, Virginia reported a couple of broken ballot machines. Broken machines can take some time to reboot; during that time, voters' ballots will go into an "emergency slot." In those cases, the ballots will be submitted by election officials under the supervision of observers from both parties. Poll workers said they're encountering fewer technical problems this year.
  • In the city of Manassas, some voters reported concerns about what seemed to be an odd button on polling machines -- though the machines, and the buttons, are fine. When voters arrive, poll workers are pressing a button on the ballot machines to give voters the "local" ballot. Some voters have worried they're not getting a complete ballot. However, the City of Manassas deputy registrar said poll workers are indeed supposed to select the "local" button, which actually gives voters the complete ballot (both local and federal). The federal-only ballot is only rarely used for voters who live overseas, the official explained.


  • The Maryland State Board of Elections told the News4 I-Team that it's received 34 complaints of "vote flipping," where voters' selections switched from one candidate to another. Montgomery County had four units out of 2,622 total, an official said, adding that the "magnitute of [the] issue is very small." All votes were corrected before they were cast. Officials blamed user error and said voters should carefully review their summary screens before they cast their votes.
  • The Montgomery County Board of Elections say it's received about a dozen complaints from voters about machines registering inaccurate votes. Board of Elections spokeswoman Marjorie Roher said the machines are working properly and attributed the complaints to "thumb dragging" or problematic finger maneuvers by the voters. Roher said the switch occurs "if the voter doesn't press the [candidate] box exactly in the center of the box." The county has instructed polling place judges to alert voters to be careful when pressing the boxes.
  • A Bowie resident who usually votes at Tulip Grove Elementary discovered Tuesday that the school is under renovation. He said he and many others didn't receive advance notification. He was sent to another polling place a mile away.
  • In Frederick County, as of midday Tuesday, crews had already replaced six balky, slow-running voting machines.


  • Four "e-poll books" used to check in voters were stolen Tuesday morning from Davis Elementary School. They were replaced before voting started. The D.C. Board of Elections told the News4 I-Team there are no privacy concerns because voter information on the devices can't be obtained without being connected to the network.
  • A resident of Ward 2 said her normal polling place moved without notice from the School Without Walls to St. Paul's Parish, six blocks away.

Have you encountered a problem at the polls? Call our tipline at 202-885-4444 or send an email to

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