Ballot Box

Voting problems cited in key states

The midterm elections have been fraught with problems at the voting booths in several states facing tight Senate and gubernatorial races, voting rights advocates say.

Voters had problems casting ballots in key states like Georgia and North Carolina that were instrumental in handing Senate control to Republicans.

Restrictive new voter identification laws were blamed for some of the problems, as well as machine glitches, according to news reports.

This was the first major election since the Supreme Court struck down a key element of the Voting Rights Act last year in a move that civil rights groups say will hurt minority voters in the South.

“Across the country today, thousands of Americans faced confusion and discrimination at the ballot box, because the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act last year,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “It’s clear that the real losers in today’s election are the voters,” he said.

Henderson expressed concerns that voter discrimination will be the “new normal” under the changes to the Voting Rights Act.

In North Carolina, where Sen. Kay Hagan (D) lost in a tight race to Republican challenger Thom Tillis, voters faced new restrictive voting laws. Some voters weren’t allowed to cast ballots, because they showed up to the wrong precincts, while others were deterred by new curbs to early voting and a ban on same-day registration.

Voting machine failures were also reported in North Carolina.

In Georgia, where Republicans maintained control behind businessman David Perdue in one of the most high-profile races, voting rights groups reported massive problems with voter registrations.

Election Protection, a nonpartisan voter protection coalition, reported problems with a state-run website used to verify voter registrations.

Georgia officials recently were criticized for losing 40,000 voter registrations mostly from minority voters.

“This is completely unacceptable,” said Lawyers’ Committee President Barbara Arnwine, who leads Election Protection. “The state of Georgia had a responsibility to ensure that their websites and phone resources were operational and available to voters at all times, yet the website continues to have ongoing problems.”

Voting problems reported in Connecticut and Florida also shook up the governors’ races in those states.

In Connecticut, Gov. Dan Malloy (D) asked for the polls to remain open an additional hour after voter registration problems were reported statewide. He is in a tight race with Republican challenger Tom Foley.

Meanwhile, in Florida, a court denied Democratic governor candidate Charlie Crist’s request for extended voting hours after reports of major delays at one polling site. Crist lost a tight race to Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

Texas and Alabama also reported voting problems.

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