Concern Mounts Over Expected Voting Surge

Early voter turnout has already shattered records in some states, and a record number of Americans are expected to hit the polls Tuesday.

That's sparking concerns about making sure every vote is counted, and properly, CBS News Chief Investigative Correspondent Armen Keteyian reported on The Early Show Thursday.

Will the right to vote become a fight to vote in many states?

"Election officials are being challenged this year by the unprecedented turnout," noted Gracia Hillman, who heads Election Assistance Commission.

"We're going to have to worry about the mechanics of getting the votes counted," pointed out Loyola Law School election law expert Rick Hasen.

Experts say any problems will likely center around both computer and human error.

A big reason for that, says Keteyian, is that, for the first time this year, nearly 90 percent of all votes will be cast or counted by either optical scanners or touch-screen machines, with more than 40 percent of registered voters using equipment different than they did in the last presidential election.

In addition, Keteyian says, officials are concerned that brush fires ignited during enormous early voting already evident in places such as Virginia and North Carolina could spread -- fueled by machine breakdowns and a huge voter showing in African-American communities with historically low turnout.

Tovah Wang of Common Cause says she's "concerned we don't have enough voting machines, and we don't have enough ballots, and we don't have enough poll workers."

But, with respect to the impact on the tabulation of votes for president, Keteyian says no one foresees a rerun of the problems in Florida eight years ago -- at least so far.

"Will there be problems on Election Day in different places in the county? Absolutely," says Hasen. "Will those problems affect the outcome of the presidential election? Almost certainly not."

As for charges from both parties of voter fraud or suppression, Keteyian says, "Frankly, we've reported they've proven far more rhetoric than reality."
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