Americans wait hours to vote in historic election
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Tuesday, November 4, 2008 6:50PM EST
Last Updated Friday, May 18, 2012 9:26PM EDT
The lines are stretched for blocks and blocks in some American cities, as voters have lined up by the thousands to cast their ballots in the 2008 U.S. election.
There are reports of people waiting as long as four to six hours in some locations. Much of the delays are due to the sheer numbers of voters showing up at polling stations, but there have also been some problems with electronic voting machines.
In New Jersey, some voters were forced to use paper ballots because of an electronic glitch. There were also problems with voting machines in Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Another problem in Virginia didn't have as much to do with new technology as it did with an old fashioned mistake: a head librarian overslept and a polling station wasn't opened on schedule. There were also accusations that voter suppression had occurred in the battleground state, with a judge refusing late Monday to extend the polling window or add more voting machines in some areas with high black populations.
The adjustments had been demanded in a federal lawsuit by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or NAACP. The group argued that there would be a much higher turnout than usual in minority neighbourhoods, and the extra provisions were necessary to accommodate all voters.
AP reports that U.S, District Judge Richard Williams denied the requests but instead ordered local election officials to publicize that all those who were in voting lines by 7 p.m. local time would be permitted to vote.
And just hours before polls opened, John McCain's election campaign filed suit against the Virginia electoral board, pushing to have late military ballots arriving from overseas included in the vote.
In Ohio, where past elections have been marred with voting problems, officials were dealing with the usual voting snags, such as jammed voting machines, but no major issues had occurred.
Elections officials say that for the most part voting has gone smoothly for a majority of people.
"We're taking care of things like that," Franklin County Board of Elections spokesman Ben Piscitelli told AP. "But there's nothing major or systemic."
The total number of people registered to vote is up 7.3 per cent from the last presidential election.
Queues began to form before sunrise in some districts as voters tried to beat the crowds -- amid reports that some voters would have to wait as long as eight hours to cast a ballot.
In New York, voters began lining up as early as 4 a.m. to try and beat the rush. And if the early voter turnout in that state sets a nation-wide tone, election participation will be the highest ever, The Associated Press reports.