Big Super Tuesday turnout; invisible glitch
Scattered voting problems, including machine glitches and long lines, emerged in some states on the biggest Super Tuesday, but overall...
The Associated Press
Scattered voting problems, including machine glitches and long lines, emerged in some states on the biggest Super Tuesday, but overall, voting appeared to go smoothly.
A record turnout was expected as 24 states and one territory held contests to narrow the field for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominee.
In the blue-collar town of Manchester, Conn., just south of Hartford, turnout surged to nearly 70 percent, forcing election officials to photocopy 3,000 ballots.
Asked if he was surprised, registrar Frank Maffe Jr. replied: "Astounds me is more like it. It's amazing."
There were long lines in Minnesota, Georgia, Tennessee and Kansas. In Johnson County, the largest in Kansas, Democratic caucuses reported delays due to long lines and the relocation of one caucus because of overwhelming turnout.
There were similar crowds in Minnesota, where Democrats and Republicans waited in jammed hallways to cast caucus votes. Party officials said sites would stay open to accommodate everyone in line as of the 8 p.m. cutoff time.
Precincts in Eastern Tennessee stayed open late so throngs of voters in line at closing time could cast ballots. Across the state, however, tornadoes forced at least four counties to close polls early.
"We don't like to see this happen, but we've got to do what we have to do to protect our poll workers," said state Election Coordinator Brook Thompson.
Long lines also affected Illinois, but Cook County Clerk David Orr said there were only minor problems in a few precincts. "We don't think we lost any voters," he said.
Some votes were apparently lost, however, when about 20 people at a Chicago precinct were given styluses designed for touch-screen machines instead of ink pens. When voters complained the devices made no marks on their paper ballots, a ballot judge told them the markers had invisible ink.
"After 20 people experienced the same problem, somebody said, 'Wait, we've got 20 ballots where nobody's voted for anything,' " said Board of Elections spokesman Jim Allen.
Officials were trying to contact the voters. Allen said the voters and the judge believed the invisible-ink theory.
Another oddity occurred in Florida, where voters excited by Super Tuesday tried to cast ballots.
Election officials reported fielding hundreds of calls from confused people who apparently forgot — or were unaware — that Florida's primary was last week.
Voters in Georgia, who are now required to present photo identification, were faced with lines of up to 90 minutes long. Poll workers were bogged down comparing IDs against computerized registration records.
Tennessee wasn't the only place weather presented a problem. Tornadoes also hit Arkansas. Natasha Naragon, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state's office, said several polling locations closed.
In Arizona, where voting activists feared a controversial photo-ID rule could cause confusion, things were apparently fine.
"People seem ready for it. No one seems to be upset," said Mindy Moretti, who was monitoring voting for the watchdog group electiononline.org.
As Super Tuesday approached, voting advocates worried that long lines, high turnout and record numbers of mail-in ballots could drag out the counting process for days.
Nationwide, election officials estimated mail-in ballots may account for up to 50 percent of the vote in some areas. More than 5 million people requested mail-in ballots in California, where there are 15.7 million registered voters.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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