8 Questions

Bill Turque on what to expect
on Election Day

Question 4: What places are likely to encounter delays or other problems with voting?

The historic volume of early voting — it’s possible that as much as 40 percent of the electorate will have cast ballots by Tuesday — is likely to ease some bottlenecks and speed the process on Election Day. But extremely long ballots in some localities, including in Florida, have already caused lengthy lines. Confusion over recent changes in state laws could complicate or delay voting. A Pennsylvania judge put the state’s strict new photo-identification law on hold last month, ruling that election officials could ask for picture ID but not require it this year. Voting rights activists are concerned that poll workers may misunderstand the judge’s decision and insist on photo identification. They also contend that some ads sponsored by the state are misleading and will suppress the vote by giving the impression that the law is currently in force. Technical snafus are always a part of election night. A study released this summer by Common Cause, the Rutgers School of Law and the Verified Voting Foundation listed six states (Colorado, Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina) as the “least prepared” to respond to voting-machine failures. Overall, the environment is significantly improved over 2000, when Florida voters used unreliable punch-card ballots and officials were left to examine dimpled, pregnant and hanging chads to divine a voter’s intent.