Midterms 2018: Voters face malfunctioning machines and long lines at polls across country on Election Day

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By Erik Ortiz, Shamar Walters, Emily Siegel, Jareen Imam, Sarah Fitzpatrick and Alex Johnson

Malfunctioning machines, voter confusion and locked polling sites were among the problems punctuating Election Day as millions of Americans cast ballots Tuesday in a midterm election fueling an outpouring of enthusiasm — and frustratingly long lines.

Nick Alexander, 50, arrived at his polling site in Snellville, Georgia, at 7:15 a.m. He expected to be out quickly, but the trip turned into a three-hour ordeal.

“The lines were very long, but had they opened up and done everything right, it would have been a breeze,” Alexander said. “We could get in and get out, and people could make it to work on time.”

Long waits, jammed machines and other voting glitches were reported across the country:

  • Humidity was causing issues in North Carolina and Alabama, where ballot tabulators couldn’t read ballots. In New York City, where lines were out the door, election officials said rain had wet ballots and caused scanners to jam.
  • Polling times in parts of North Carolina and Georgia were extended after voting issues and delays.
  • Homeland Security officials said they detected no successful hacking attempts.

Voting hours were extended at several locations in Georgia, a battleground state where Stacey Abrams, the former Democratic leader in the state House, was neck and neck with Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp in the race for governor. Georgia has been roiled by claims of attempted voter hacking and the purging of tens of thousands of voters, most of them black, from its rolls.

In Fulton County, home to Atlanta, the capital, a judge extended voting by two hours, until 9 p.m., at Pittman Park Recreational Center because the site had too few voting machines. Voting was extended by three hours, until 10 p.m., at the Archer and Booker T. Washington polling places on the campus of Morehouse College because of significant delays.

The machines at Anderson-Livsey Elementary School in Snellville stopped running after their batteries died. A spokesman for Gwinnett County said that the appropriate power cords had to be retrieved and that the machines were working again around 9:15 a.m.

Alexander said that only a couple of poll workers were checking IDs and that the line “moved at a snail’s pace.” A judge ordered that the polling station stay open a half-hour late, until 7:30 p.m.