US votes without major hitches, though election security is high
Americans voted without major issues on Tuesday in midterm elections that have drawn scrutiny after two years of misrepresentations and conspiracy theories about how ballots are cast and counted.
With polling stations open across the country, there were no reports of widespread problems with ballots, long lines or voter intimidation, although there were some misfires in some places. , which is typical of any election day.
One hiccup has attracted outsized attention: Vote tabulators malfunctioned at 20 percent of polling places in Arizona’s most populous county, which includes Phoenix. While election officials assured the public that every vote in Maricopa County would be counted, the issue prompted an outcry from Republicans in a state where elections for governor and U.S. Senate are expected to be close and where the Skepticism about electoral systems runs deep within the GOP. since 2020.
Elsewhere, the opening of some voting sites in North Carolina was delayed because workers showed up late and officials extended voting hours there. And in one Pennsylvania county, polling stations raced to replenish low supplies of paper ballots.
Election experts said the type and number of disruptions encountered by voters were not unusual.
But problems with vote tabulation machines in Maricopa County sparked an outpouring of criticism on social media and prompted Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake to say after casting her vote: “I’m embarrassed for the Arizona.”
A spokeswoman for the state Department of Elections, Megan Gilbertson, said the issue was minor and voters had options to vote, including using the secure drop box at the polling place or going to another voting center.
As of noon, nearly half of the county’s 232 polling centers reported no waits. The longest wait was just over an hour at a suburban Phoenix mall in Anthem.
The Maricopa County Department of Elections said it identified the solution and repaired tabulators at about 60 polling centers.
“I am truly sorry to any voter who was frustrated or inconvenienced today in Maricopa County,” County Clerk Stephen Richer said. “Every legal vote will be tallied. I promise.”
Since the last national election in 2020, former President Donald Trump and his allies have managed to sow great distrust in the vote by promoting false allegations of massive fraud. Those efforts, which have eroded public confidence in elections and democracy, continued on Tuesday as Trump and other prominent Republicans claimed routine voting problems were a sign of Democrats’ efforts to rig the elections.
“There are attempts to use these problems with election administration and voting machines that election workers are working to solve to launch a disinformation campaign,” said Jesse Littlewood, vice president of campaigns at Common Cause. , which argues for access to the vote.
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The run-up to Election Day this year has been marked by concerns about further harassment and the risk of disruption at polling stations and at polling stations where ballots will be counted. Election officials say they are ready to handle any issues that arise and have urged voters not to be deterred.
But instead of intimidation, there were mostly milder reports of supporters aggressively campaigning just outside polling stations in some areas. In Bridgton, Maine, police issued a warning to a woman who photographed a voter dropping a ballot into a drop box on Monday and then posted it on social media.
At a polling station in the Atlanta suburb of Woodstock, 25-year-old voter Tyler Moore said she wouldn’t be surprised if there was controversy after the election. “Everyone is on guard about it,” she said after casting her vote at a church. “But the best thing we can do about it is just vote.”
In Luzerne County, in northeastern Pennsylvania, several polling places needed to be reconstructed. County attorney Mike Butera said no voters were turned away, more ballots were being delivered to each precinct and polling places would remain open for an additional two hours.
Prior to the pandemic, many states had begun to move away from a single voting day to offering days or weeks of in-person early voting and mail-in ballots.
No major issues were reported during the early voting period. But some of Pennsylvania’s largest counties have been working to help voters fix mail-in ballots that had flaws like incorrect dates or missing signatures on the envelopes used to mail them. This has led to confusion and legal challenges in the battleground state where a few thousand ballots can be enough to influence the results of statewide races.
By Tuesday, nearly 44.5 million people across the country had already voted.
Party affiliation appears to be an increasingly important factor in how and when to vote. Republican skepticism of mail-in voting has persisted amid attacks from Trump and his allies. Some Republican activists and candidates have gone so far as to encourage voters who receive a mail-in ballot to wait until the very last minute to deliver it, saying this will somehow prevent Democrats from stealing the ballot. ‘election.
Election officials defended the system. They note the many checks in place to ensure that only one vote per person is counted, the reviews that ensure the machines accurately count the ballots and the efforts to identify any attempted fraud.
“State and local election officials have contingency plans in place so voters can have confidence in our elections,” said the National Association of Secretaries of State and the National Association of Electoral Officers. State in a statement.
But the false allegations have spread widely among Republicans, fueled by conspiracy theorists on social media and at events held across the country.
An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey from October found that 45% of Republicans had little or no confidence that votes in the midterm elections would be accurately counted. And a majority of Republicans, 58%, still believe President Joe Biden was not legitimately elected – though down slightly from 66% in July 2021.
Election officials recognize that e-voting systems can be vulnerable and have taken numerous steps to increase security since the 2016 election, when Russia was determined to be looking for vulnerabilities. Congress has sent nearly $900 million to states to bolster their cybersecurity defenses, including hiring more IT staff, replacing outdated systems and adding regular security testing.
Most voters also cast hand-marked paper ballots or use machines that produce a paper record of their votes. These are used after the election to check that the machines used to count the ballots are working properly.
By CHRISTINA A. CASSIDY and GEOFF MULVIHILL, Associated Press. AP reporters across the country contributed to this report.