With polls beginning to close in parts of the country, most of the problems reported earlier today in key battleground states around the country, especially Virginia and Pennsylvania, have simply not panned out. And unless, this election is razor thin, some of the legal challenges filed today -- and over the next few days -- will hardly matter.
The non-headline headline is that all those fears of voter fraud and voter suppression that dominated weeks of the campaign simply haven't panned out.
The problems, many of the same ones we've seen previous elections, are probably more noteworthy for their volume rather than their validity. What is noteworthy is the confusion around all the new state guidelines put in place since 2006 that have led to record numbers of provisional ballots in places like Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Virginia that will most certainly be contested.
- In Pennsylvania, another lawsuit has been filed by the NAACP against Philadelphia County this afternoon. The group is seeking a court ruling requiring county election officials to count emergency paper ballots cast today at the close of polls. Despite orders from the Secretary of State, election officials have stated they do not plan to count these emergency ballots until Friday.
- National Public Radio reported on a variety of problems in key battleground states. According to NPR, Gov. Ed Rendell and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter urged people not to vote before or after work because they feared the crowds could be overwhelming.
- In Florida, problems have largely centered around malfunctions with scanning machines that appear to have been quickly rectified. There have been reports of "dirty tricks" involving robo-calls to Cubans in south Florida that suggesting Obama sympathizes with Fidel Castro.
- Newsweek reports that voting in Florida was a relatively smooth process. Newsweek reports that roughly one-quarter of registered voters statewide had cast their ballots early, thereby easing the strain today.
- In Indiana, the Service Employees International Union filed a complaint in the circuit court in Crown Point Indiana over the refusal of election officials to make paper ballots. Paper ballots are supposed to be available for voters to use as backup for machines that don't work, and to be sure that people who were still in line at the close of the polls will be able to vote. They have had long lines and machine breakdowns in Lake County, Indiana all day.
- In Ohio, any anticipated problems in this state have failed to materialize. With a record turnout, all in all, voting rights groups say that this election has been run relatively smoothly. The only real concern, if this election is close, involves the counting of provisional ballots, as the number of voters impacted is significant. (These ballots are not counted until 11 days after the election.) Many of these voters, in Cuyahoga and Columbus counties, are working with election boards to resolve some of the problems: not registered, in the wrong polling location or improper identification. The rules governing provisional ballots have been more complicated in recent years, with poll workers providing these ballots when they aren't warranted as in the case of a non-matching address or license.
- In Missouri, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan today responded to reports of misleading text messages and "robo-calls" from around Missouri which encourage some voters to wait and vote tomorrow. The messages, forwarded to the Secretary of State's office by several voters, have been sent to the U.S. Attorney's office for further investigation.
By Wendy Krantz