Voters Report Long Lines, Some Voting Machine and Provisional Ballot Issues - NBC 10 Philadelphia
Decision 2018

Decision 2018

The latest news on local, state and national midterm elections

Voters Report Long Lines, Some Voting Machine and Provisional Ballot Issues

But the voting problems were not out of the ordinary for a busy election, officials said

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Morning Problems at the Polls

    Rain isn't the only thing causing delays at the polls this Nov. 6. Would-be morning voters faced issues with late or absent election officials, electrical problems, and downed voting machines. However, by mid-afternoon, problems had been found and fixed... now, NBC10 says, polling experts expect the major complications are mostly over. (Published Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018)

    Reports of long lines, broken machines and power outages at polling locations throughout the region greeted voters Tuesday.

    More than 100 people in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, were given incorrect ballots Tuesday morning, according to Mayor Peter Urscheler. The issue came to light after several people noticed that candidates from a different district were named on their ballots.

    Urscheler urged the first 108 voters who placed their ballots at the Phoenixville Senior Center Polling Place between 7 a.m and 8:30 a.m. to return to their polling place before they close at 8 p.m. and speak to the judge of elections for an opportunity to vote again. 

    It might be a good thing that this happened in Chester County; it's the only county in the region that still uses paper ballots, which makes addressing this problem easier for officials.

    There were several reports throughout the region of voters who said they were not listed in election books and denied a chance to cast a provisional ballot, which is a violation of election rules.

    However, these problems were not considered out of the ordinary for a busy Election Day, which this midterm turned out to be. A spokesman for the Philadelphia District Attorney's office said this was nothing out of the ordinary, with no major issues reported.

    Those and other tips were sent to ProPublica's Electionland project, which monitors voting problems around the country.

    NBC10 has partnered with Electionland. If you had trouble voting, or if you saw something you want to tell us about, click here to report it

    Meanwhile, at a firehouse in the 7800 block of Frankford Avenue in Philadelphia, voters complained that wait times were exacerbated by three of four voting machines not working. Only two poll volunteers were on site.

    A separate firehouse in Havertown was relying on generators to keep on the lights while Peco scrambled to fix power lines throughout the morning.

    And in Chester County, a sign was posted inside a polling place insinuating that a vote for Democrats was a vote for "mobs," while a vote for Republicans was a vote for "jobs." 

    There were also reports of "problems" that turned out not to be problems. The Pennsylvania GOP sent out an email with a picture that showed two people inside a voting booth in North Philadelphia. "Without a documented disability ... this is illegal," the email read.

    However, it is legal to ask for help voting if needed. In this case, the extra feet belonged to a translator.

    Voters and volunteers reported some issues at polling places around Bucks and Montgomery counties Tuesday morning, including one in Warwick that required the court to get involved.

    Bucks County Judge C. Theodore Fritsch Jr. on Tuesday ordered the removal of signs that were posted outside the Warwick Township Building polling place for Precincts 1 and 4 after a petition was filed on behalf of the Bucks County Democratic Committee in the Court of Common Pleas.

    Dan Cohen, a Warwick resident and Democratic committee volunteer, was at the polling place Tuesday morning when several voters came in and told him about the signs, which he described as "racist" and "offensive."

    Across the state, seven counties had reports of broken or malfunctioning machines, including Philadelphia, Delaware, Lehigh and Montgomery counties, said the non-partisan, national group the Election Protection Coalition.

    In five counties, including Philadelphia, Delaware and Lehigh counties, there were reports of polling places not opening on time.

    Three counties in New Jersey and Pennsylvania received extra Election Day safeguarding oversight from the federal government, in addition to the usual local and state law enforcement.

    Middlesex and Union counties in New Jersey and Lehigh County in Pennsylvania are among the 35 counties in 19 states where federal officials will provide compliance help.

    State attorneys general and State Department officials in Pennsylvania and New Jersey also provided law enforcement officials as compliance officials throughout their respective states on Election Day.

    “Voting is one of the linchpins of our democracy, and we take seriously our role in making sure the rights of those eligible to vote are protected,” New Jersey Attorney General Grewal said.

    “As our office has done in the past, we will be stationing attorneys throughout the state to ensure the integrity of our election. Our attorneys will be on hand to help resolve any voting-related legal issues that might arise, and to ensure these issues are resolved promptly and fairly.”

    Here are other ways for voters to file complaints about issues they encountered on Election Day:

    New Jersey: Any person who believes his or her right to vote has been interfered with, or who wishes to report other voting-related problems or concerns, can call the state’s Voter Information and Assistance line toll-free at 1-877-NJVOTER. Members of the public also can direct election-related questions to their County Superintendent of Elections and county Board of Elections. A list of county-level election office contacts, as well as other useful elections-related information, can be found on the New Jersey Division of Elections web site.

    Pennsylvania: Call the voter hotline at 1-877-VOTESPA (1-877-868-3772). For election-related scams, call the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection at (800)441-2555 or file a complaint online.

    Philadelphia: 85 staffers from the District Attorney's office will provide all-day responses to callers at (215)686-9641. Officials will respond to voter intimidation complaints, illegal ballot help and electioneering at polling places.