WASHINGTON, DC--It appears Virginia's electoral debacle is upon is.
The vigilant folks here at Election Protection headquarters are telling us that large numbers of Virginia voters have been turned away from the polls this morning. Several precincts opened late and quickly had ballot shortages. At some, not all the machines were working; at others, none of them were working. The group's legal volunteers are learning more by the minute as calls come in from voters--so take this all with a grain of salt for now--but word here is that more than a dozen precincts have been experiencing serious problems in the Commonwealth. The number of voters affected, according to a group spokesman, is "significant."
More than a thousand frustrated Virginians have called to complain this morning. One widely reported blunder: Workers at some of the state's malfunctioning precincts have been giving cleanly registered voters provisional ballots instead of paper ballots, most likely because they ran out of the paper ones. (Provisional ballots are meant for voters whose eligibility has been called into question.) "Over the last hour, we're continuing to get these problems in Virginia," says Jon Greenbaum, the coalition's legal director. And then there's this, from a Rock the Vote rep: The polling precinct for Virginia Tech students in Blacksburg was moved to a church that sits on an unmarked road six miles off campus. Better carpool, Hokies.
The problems in Virginia should come as no surprise. The swing state added half a million voters to the rolls since '04, and the legal tussling was already underway in Richmond before this morning. Claiming the state wasn't prepared for the onslaught of voters, the NAACP had requested last week that polling hours be extended, more paper ballots be issued, and polling machinery be moved between precincts as necessary. A federal judge denied that request yesterday.
In Philly and Pittsburgh, callers are grumbling about busted voting machines, saying they were forced to cast provisional ballots like their counterparts in Virginia. As a spokesman here put it, "There are all these new battlegrounds that weren't ready for the stresses." And of course, let's not forget the perennial clusterf** that is Florida. In Hillsborough County, there are reports of optical-scan voter machines on the fritz. In Broward County, voters are complaining that they never received their absentee ballots.
And it's not even lunchtime yet.