The scourge of a world pandemic produced an election season like no different within the US, persuading document numbers of Americans to solid their ballots early, forcing states to make modifications to long-established election procedures and resulting in a whole lot of lawsuits over how votes can be solid and which ballots might be counted.
Polls have been open throughout the nation Tuesday as election officers warned that hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots might gradual the tallies, maybe for days, in some key battleground states and as President Donald Trump threatened authorized motion to forestall ballots from being counted after Election Day. FULL COVERAGE
Like yearly, voters face issues this time too
Problems happen each election, and Tuesday was no completely different. There have been lengthy traces early within the day and sporadic studies of polling locations opening late and tools points reported in counties in Georgia and Ohio. This was all anticipated given previous expertise, the decentralized nature of voting within the US and last-minute modifications because of the pandemic.
At least 98.eight million individuals had already voted earlier than Election Day
At least 98.eight million individuals had already voted earlier than Election Day, about 71 p.c of the almost 139 million ballots solid throughout the 2016 presidential election, in keeping with information collected by The Associated Press. Given that just a few states, together with Texas, had already exceeded their complete 2016 vote rely, specialists have been predicting document turnout this yr.
“Come hell or high water,” stated Kristen Clarke, government director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “It feels like that has been the attitude voters have needed to make sure their voices are heard this year.”
Those but to vote headed to polling locations regardless of one other spike in COVID-19 instances that has hit a lot of the nation. Among them have been voters who might have wished to vote by mail however waited too lengthy to request a poll or those that didn’t obtain their ballots in time.
Kaal Ferguson, 26, deliberate to vote by mail however was involved he hadn’t left sufficient time to ship his poll again. So he voted in particular person in Atlanta, regardless of worries that he might be uncovered to COVID-19.
“Obviously everybody has their right to vote,” he stated. “But it’s kind of scary knowing that there’s not a place just for them to vote if they’d had it, so you could easily be exposed.”
Others have been probably persuaded by the president’s rhetoric attacking mail voting or just most popular to vote in particular person.
“I don’t want to see no mailman. I like to stand here, see my own people, wait in the line and do my civil duty,” stated James “Sekou” Jenkins, a 68 year-old retired carpenter and mechanic who waited about 15 minutes earlier than polls opened in West Philadelphia and voted for Democrat Joe Biden about an hour later.
Democrats dominate early voting, will Republicans cover-up with in-person voting
With Democrats dominating the early vote, Republicans have been anticipated to comprise a big share of Tuesday’s voting.
Federal authorities have been monitoring voting and any threats to the election throughout the nation at an operations heart simply outdoors Washington D.C. Officials there stated there have been no main issues detected early Tuesday.
“We’re not out of the woods yet,” stated Christopher Krebs, the director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. “Today, in some sense, is half-time. There may be other events or activities or efforts to interfere and undermine confidence in the election. So I’d ask all Americans to be patient, to treat all sensational and unverified claims with skepticism, and remember technology sometimes fails and breaks.”
Kathleen Thomas, 61, needed to vote by paper poll due to a problem with voting machines at her polling place in Atlanta. She was pleasantly stunned the method took lower than an hour however would have fairly used a machine.
“If I had a choice I would prefer to cast a ballot into the machine myself,” she stated. “But I guess I have no choice. I can’t go to another precinct. I can’t take that chance. I have to vote.”
In the months main as much as Election Day, election officers needed to take care of a pandemic that has contaminated greater than 9 million Americans and killed greater than 230,000, forcing them to make systemic modifications largely on the fly and largely with out federal cash. Meanwhile, Trump repeatedly sought to undermine the election with unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud.
He has notably focused the essential battleground state of Pennsylvania, after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed — at the very least for now — a three-day extension for receiving and counting absentee ballots. Over the weekend, Trump stated that as quickly because the polls shut there on Tuesday, “We’re going in with our lawyers.”
Misinformation about election procedures, considerations about confrontations on the polls and studies of mail slowdowns additionally clouded the run-up to Election Day.
The National Association of Secretaries of State labored with the National Association of State Election Directors to assist states hammer out plans for shielding in opposition to overseas and home cyberattacks, countering misinformation and strengthening an election infrastructure examined by huge early voting and pandemic precautions.
Election officers throughout some 10,000 voting jurisdictions scrambled to buy personal-protective tools, discover bigger polling locations, substitute veteran ballot employees who opted to sit down out this yr’s election as a result of well being considerations and add momentary employees to take care of the avalanche of mail ballots.
Most states, even ones with broad masks mandates, stopped wanting forcing voters to put on them on the polls. Instead, they urged voters to don masks whereas offering choices for individuals who refused.
Lines already prolonged by social-distancing guidelines might worsen if massive numbers of voters who requested a mail poll present up on the polls after deciding they’d fairly vote in particular person.
In some states, these voters might be required to solid a provisional poll — one which finally might be counted if the voter is eligible and didn’t beforehand vote. But this additionally triggers a lengthier check-in course of, resulting in delays. Millions of absentee ballots have been nonetheless excellent as of Monday, together with 1.Three million in Florida and 700,000 in Pennsylvania.
What does lengthy queues imply?
Election officers have emphasised that whereas lengthy traces usually are not acceptable, it doesn’t imply there was any type of widespread failure. They additionally warned that remoted incidents of voter intimidation have been potential given the extent of political rancor this yr, however that safeguards are in place and voters shouldn’t be involved about casting a poll in particular person.
Cassidy reported from Atlanta and Izaguirre from Lindenhurst, N.Y. Associated Press writers Nicholas Riccardi in Denver, Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus, Ohio, Natalie Pompilio in Philadelphia, Ben Fox in Washington and Sophia Tulp in Atlanta contributed to this report.