Sunday 22 September 2019

Long lines trouble American voters as #ElectionDay trends worldwide

Queues and faulty machines have raised accusations of voter suppression during the US midterm elections.

Voters line up in the rain outside Bright Family and Youth Center in the Columbia Heights neighborhood in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. Across the country, voters headed to the polls Tuesday in one of the most high-profile midterm elections in years. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Voters line up in the rain outside Bright Family and Youth Center in the Columbia Heights neighborhood in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. Across the country, voters headed to the polls Tuesday in one of the most high-profile midterm elections in years. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

By Alastair Reid, Press Association

Long lines and faulty voting machines have dominated the opening hours of the 2018 US midterm elections, with hundreds of voters using social media to vent their frustrations.

Record numbers of voters are expected to turn out in the first nation-wide poll since the divisive election of Donald Trump as president in 2016.

Some of the biggest problems reported on Tuesday were in Georgia, where some voters reported waiting up to three hours to cast their ballot, but problems have also been reported in New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC and Virginia.

Barry Hott, a social media director from New York, said he spent nearly two hours trying to vote in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, in cramped, disorganised and “borderline dangerous” conditions as ballot scanners broke.

He said: “I initially waited outdoors in the rain but that’s to be expected.

“Once I got inside and it was filled with lines zigzagging and spiralling across the place, very disorganised.”

Mr Hott, 31, said the machines to scan people’s ballot papers broke, souring the mood as voters became worried that their votes would not be counted.

At a polling place in Snellville, Georgia, more than 100 people took turns sitting in children’s chairs and on the floor as they waited in line for hours.

Voter Ontaria Woods said about two dozen people who had come to vote left because of the lines.

At a poll site in Atlanta, voters waited in the rain in long lines that stretched around the building.

Hannah Ackermann said officials at the polling site offered various explanations for the delay, including blaming workers who did not show up and overloaded machines.

Back in New York, Mr Hott said successful voters were leaving the polling station and encouraging those still waiting in line.

He added: “People were really excited. They were coming out and saying ‘stay in line, you have to do this’, cheering everyone on. I found that to be really motivating and exciting. Important.”

More than 35 million Americans cast their vote before election day, almost double the number of postal votes counted in the 2014 midterm elections, which had the lowest total turnout for midterms since 1942.

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