Updated Throughout the Entire Day (and Night)...
By Brad Friedman on 4/22/2008, 10:29am PT  

Problem reports from polling places in PA, including voting machine malfunctions and long lines, began coming in early this morning. That could be an ominous sign, given that on most Election Days, the real extent of problems, at least with voting systems, isn't fully revealed until later, and often in the days after the election. See our report yesterday detailing concerns about e-voting equipment (though not from officials, who weren't concerned at all) and whether there would be enough machines to go around (presuming they work at all) across Pennsylvania.

Election Prob Hotlines...Machine probs: 1-866-MY-VOTE-1, Machine & other probs: 1-866-OUR-VOTE, Fraud tips: 1-888-VOTE-TIP

Map of counties, showing which type of machines each uses, available here. (Hat-tip BRAD BLOG commenter "GWN".)

NOTE: Updated throughout the day and night of the primary, and the following morning.
Newest items posted on top.

4/23, 2:40am ET: "Smooth Sailing" say the media...even if their very own reporting revealed otherwise...

This will likely be the last of our "Problem Report Wire" dispatches added to this item. We'll pick up the rest of the PA mess, and there is a lot of it, in subsequent blog items.

The long list of reports that you can peruse below, from the past 24 hours, mostly culled directly from the corporate media itself, belie the claims made all day yesterday by many public officials and even the media themselves, that all went well at the polls in the Keystone State.

Countless voters were unable to cast a vote yesterday in PA. The overwhelming majority of those who succeeded in doing so, will never be able to determine whether or not their vote was counted accurately, or even at all, given that some 85% of those votes were cast on machines in which it is literally impossible for anyone, ever, to verify that a single vote was recorded accurately as per the voter's intent. We explained all of that here Monday night, prior to the election, in our article "The Pennsylvania Primary: Democracy of the Gods".

As we mentioned then, if any election official in PA (or anywhere else), or any voting machine company employee, or even any citizen, has proof otherwise, The BRAD BLOG would be happy to see it, and share it with everyone. But that proof will never come, because it does not exist, to the eternal shame of those who would allow such voting systems to be used in American democracy.

The headline of the first story in our final posted collection below, may say it all. The headline indicates "Mostly smooth sailing at polls," yet we suspect the voters referenced, who will never know if their vote was counted at all, and those who can never know if their vote was counted accurately (that would be all of them who voted on an e-voting machine!) may feel otherwise.

From Vindy.com...

Another machine, at the Greene Township Building on Dowling Schoolhouse Road, started freezing up at one point during the day, he said, so the polling place stopped using it."He said that machine has 23 votes on it."He said that if necessary, the company that manufactures the machines, Election Systems and Software out of Omaha, Neb., can retrieve those votes.

NOTE FROM JOHN GIDEON OF VOTERSUNITEORG: Since when is it NOT necessary to count every vote? This tells me that it may not be necessary, in the county's mind, to count the provisional ballots.

From the Times Chronicle...

A Montgomery County judge Tuesday evening turned down a request by the county Democratic Committee to extend voting hours by an additional hour at one Cheltenham poll for voters who could not use an electronic voting machine to cast their ballots until some 2 1/2 hours after the poll opened.

Election officials in Cheltenham's 4-1 ward reported problems with both electronic voting machines assigned to that polling place shortly after the polls opened at 7 a.m. There were approximately 200 people in line at the time.
A replacement machine, which had to be programmed, was not delivered until after 11 a.m.
Poll workers offered emergency ballots to those initial would-be voters who could not wait for a functioning voting machine or could not return to vote. However, those at the polls said the offer of emergency ballots came too late for many who were angry and stormed out, claiming they had to get to work or go out of town. Only some 60 to 70 emergency ballots were filled out.

From the Times-Leader...

WILKES-BARRE A woman wanting to vote was turned away after no proof of her registration could be found. The judge of elections at Ward 16 on Hanover Street, Walter Griffith, said Annmarie Lee, of Wilkes-Barre, told Griffith she registered to vote, but did not specify where she had registered. Griffith said he called a county elections inspector who told him there was no evidence of her registration and not to give her a provisional ballot to fill out.

Griffith said that is a violation of the law.

It is. Read the full story for the reasoning of the election officials, but as time allows, we will try to look into this story a bit deeper for more details.


4/23, 1:01am ET: More broken machines, missing registrations, voters turned away without being offered provisionals. Missed this one from earlier in the afternoon. From Philly Inquirer...

After Richard Brown, of the 5700 block of North 12th Street in Philadelphia showed up at his polling place at 6:55 a.m., it took nearly two hours for the machines to be either repaired or replaced, he said. In an affidavit cited in a failed-attempt to keep city polls opened later, Brown said he waited more than an hour for election officials to produce paper provisional ballots.

Voters at a polling place in the 49th Ward near the Fern Rock station had to wait two hours because of machine malfunctions, said Kathryn Bookvar, an attorney with the Advancement Project, based in Washington, who was in Philadelphia to monitor the election. Machine problems also were reported in West Oak Lane; Upper Darby, Delaware County, and Elkins Park, Montgomery County.

In Elkins Park, the problem was a machine accidentally powered down by a poll worker, said county spokesman John Corcoran.

In addition to the machine issues, "numerous" registration snafus were reported to the Committee of Seventy, said its election coordinator John David.

The bulk of those complaints have come from voters who switched parties and whose names did not appear on the rolls of the new party. The city has been inundated with calls, said David, adding: "It's swamping the voter-registration office."

In some instances, voters whose names were missing were not being offered provisional ballots, he said.

Some instances??? Every such voter should be offered a provisional ballot by federal law.

The DoJ claimed they were in PA today monitoring the election. So will any lawsuits be brought? How about for the voting machines which violate federal law? (We'll not hold our breath on either score.)

11:35pm ET: Machine, registration probs result in 'Countless eligible voters refused right to vote.' The description here about the voter registration problems are particularly disturbing, if familiar from other primaries so far this year, particularly in states where voter rolls have been privatized to the same voting machine companies who have screwed those up to. From Committee of 70's 10:30pm press release [WORD]...

Jonah Goldman, director of the National Campaign for Fair Elections of the Lawyers Committees Voting Rights Project said..."problems with voting machines and inaccurate voter registration rolls caused countless eligible voters to be needlessly refused the right to vote.

One of the most troubling issues today was a barrage of reports from voters who have been registered as Democrats for years, but were listed as unaffiliated and so had to vote provisionally. ... It is unclear at this time how widespread this problem was.

A couple of the incidents which came into their 1-866-OUR-VOTE hotline, as reported in the late update:

  • In Delaware County, one voter reported that the voting machines at her precinct were set for Republicans only. She told the poll worker that she was a Democrat and the worker replied, Not today.The voter was not able to cast a vote, but The League of Women Voters provided her with the phone number of the Delaware County Board of Elections to report and resolve the issue.
  • One caller reported a polling location with only three voting machines and no printers working. Voters were leaving without being offered emergency ballots.

9:58pm ET: Brad on PBC Show tonight, on voting machine probs today. Here's the audio (5 minutes) from a quick update I did tonight on the Peter B. Collins Show (where we appear regularly each week on Friday from 5p-6p PT)...

9:24pm ET: Fox "News" confirms e-voting problems.

While MSNBC was said to have reported earlier that PA's SoS claimed there were no reports of problems today (see the 6:34pm ET update below), it was Fox "News" of all outlets that bothered to confirm and briefly report the problems.

Just after the polls closed tonight, as the Exit Polls were "too close to call," and too important to share with us mere mortals, the cable news nets were beside themselves with the prospect of having to actually wait for votes to be "counted." In truth, very few of them can actually be counted because, as we explained yesterday, most of PA uses e-voting machines on which it's strictly impossible to determine if even a single vote was recorded as any voter actually intended.

It was Fox then, which confirmed some of the problems we've been reporting all day here.

"Some of those electronic voting machines did not work," says the Fox reporter in the clip below, describing the process of "cartridges" being brought in for counting. She mentions that there were some paper ballots brought in as well from where machines broke down (though as we noted in earlier reports below, provisional ballots were only handed out if both machines in voting precincts broke down).

"Those machines weren't ready, weren't going, and they did have to resort to the paper," before adding with a big roll of the eyes, "the old way."

Apologies for the quality of the quick and dirty video...

6:34pm ET: MSNBC says PA SoS tells them no reports of voting probs. This comes from an emailer, via NYU media professor, election integrity advocate, and author Mark Crispin Miller...

Just 15 minutes ago MSNBC made a major point of saying that there have been almost no reports of voting problems, according to the SoS office. Everything fine, so far. Maybe Bradblog should contact MSNBC to direct them to the right sources for information.

We guess everything must be fine then? No need to read the list of problems below, as reported all day long...

URL for this BRAD BLOG page: https://bradblog.com/?p=5918
MSNBC News Tips page: Click here...
PA Dept. of State, Election Bureau: (717) 787-5280, RA-BCEL@state.pa.us

From MSNBC website as of 12:50pm ET...

According to Leslie Amoros, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania State Department, there have been no major voter irregularities in the state.

"It's just been minor, normal kinds of stuff," she said. "Nothing major, nothing widespread."

Who said anything about "voter" irregularities? The voters are doing fine, it's the PA State Dept. which is doing a shitty job of running the state's elections.

5:37pm ET: Machine malfunctions account for 30% of voter hotline calls. A Philly-based non-profit watchdog group, Committee of Seventy, reports the following in a midday press release [WORD] from among 500 problem calls received, so far today, on their 1-866-OUR-VOTE hotline...

The most commonly reported problem so far today, accounting for approximately 30% of call volume on the hotline, has been equipment malfunction at the polls. There have also been reports of voter intimidation, rule violations at polling places and registration issues. Some sample reports include:

  • One volunteer called in to report that one of the voting machines does not seem to be recording votes properly: the count is off by three people.
  • In one precinct, voting equipment was not working and had not been working for over two hours. This problem had been reported throughout Philadelphia and the state of Pennsylvania and has the potential to disenfranchise thousands of voters by the time the polls close.

5:23pm ET: Given all the trainwreck stories posted below, perhaps a non-trainwreck story would be a welcome, momentary relief. From Philadelphia Daily News...

On Viola Walker's 103rd birthday, a dream of an election

VIOLA WALKER says she hasn't missed voting in a presidential election since Calvin Coolidge ran in 1924.

It is one of the privileges of the "better life" that she and her late husband came to Philadelphia for 81 years ago. Back when she was growing up in Rocky Mount, N.C., even the U.S. Constitution couldn't guarantee black citizens the right to vote.

When the Constitution finally granted voting rights to women in 1920, she knew that didn't include her. That's why Election Days mean so much to her.

But Viola Walker never dreamed she'd live to see an Election Day like today.

4:12pm ET: Wrong machine delivered, machine down, machine inspector blocked. Culled from Election Journal's running coverage...

Confusion – Wrong Machine Delivered

Poll workers at Ward 53 Division 12 learned this morning that they had been delivered the machine intended for Ward 55 Division 14; down-ticket candidates inaccurate.


Machine Failure

29th Ward, 4th Division.

One of the two machines at the polling place has malfunctioned. Election officials scrambling to repair before turnout picks up.

Polling place at 2340 Fulton Way


Court Appointed Machine Inspector Denied Entrance to Poll

In the the 3rd Ward State Representative Ron Waters refused to allow a court appointed machine inspector to enter the polling place. Although Rep Waters is an influential Philly pol, he in fact holds no official election position.

Waters insisted that only one machine inspector was allowed into the polling place. After election officials informed Rep Waters that his legal interpretation was incorrect, he stated “well, that’s not the way we do things”

UPDATE: Representative Ward relented, and the inspector was permitted to enter the polling location.

3:54pm ET: Voter-service phone lines jammed across state. From NY Times...

“Let’s just say it’s very busy,” said Joseph Passarella, the director of voter services for Montgomery County, sounding a little harried. “Our phones have been ringing since 6:15 this morning and have been ringing nonstop. We’ve never had a primary election this busy.”

Voting lines were long and voter-service phone lines were jammed across the state, from Philadelphia in the southeastern part of the state to Beaver County in the west. “We’re just overwhelmed,” said Geri Shuits, a polling clerk in Beaver County. “I’ve gotten so many phone calls, I just can’t keep up.”

3:45pm ET: Machines down, get jammed, in Bucks County. From Philly Burbs...

Voters waited in long lines Tuesday morning at the Village of Pennbrook in Falls while poll workers spent an hour and a half working to get two downed machines up and running.

On one of the malfunctioning machines, a voter worried that her vote was not tallied, according to Falls Republican Committeeman Kennan Haley. She was asked to cast a provisional ballot, he said.
In another instance, a voter casting a write-in vote failed to close the write-in door and caused the other machine to jam up, he said.

3:09pm ET: More machine breakdowns in Philly, voters only allowed provisions if both machines malfunction. From Philly's CBS 3 [emphasis ours]...

Voters reported problems with a polling place near 12th and Grange Streets in the Olney section of Philadelphia in the early morning hours.

Both machines were reportedly down as a long line of voters waited to cast their ballot. Some voters said they were told the power went down and a technician was needed to get the machines to function.
Many voters reportedly left the location in order to get to work on time
If both machines in a polling location break down, officials said voters will get provisional ballots.

NOTE FROM VOTERSUNITE.ORG'S JOHN GIDEON: I find it amazing that only two machines are in each Philadelphia precinct and voters can only get a paper ballot, no matter how long the lines get, if both machines are broken. Then, the paper ballots are provisional ballots and won't be counted until after the initial count is made this evening and tomorrow.

3:01pm ET: Obama camp, media report voting probs, Philly official says "all is well." From RAW STORY's election prob coverage...

"We had a few problems early on. We always do," Fred Voight, a deputy commissioner in Philadelphia told MSNBC.

Video of Voight's interview is available here.

He called reports of machines breaking down "flat out untrue" and said "everything is working throughout the city as we speak."
The Post Gazette also reported some minor problems but said they weren't causing major delays:

Because of the expected large turnout, election judges' difficulty getting machines started at a polling place in North Braddock and another in the city's Banksville section prompted some concern.

At these two sites, election judges, clerks and inspectors, all nominally paid volunteers, initially were unable to print out verification that the voting machines had been set at zero.
More than 30 people in Banksville and several more in North Braddock used emergency paper ballots to cast their votes.

Post-Gazette readers also reported problems at one or two polling stations this morning, including Graham Field and Beacon Hill in Wilkinsburg.

12:28am ET: Machines down in African American area of Philly, voters leave without voting, registration probs. Via Email from computer security, e-voting expert, Dr. Rebecca Mercuri...

Channel 6 (ABC News, Philadelphia) was reporting at lunchtime that voting machines were down in the Fern Rock section of the city (which happens to be a heavily African-American area) and at least 50 people apparently left without voting. I don't know why they weren't given emergency ballots to use (maybe they didn't have any there). Also, there have been numerous reports of people who were listed in the poll book as one party when they claim they had registered as the other party (the news report didn't specify which party predominated in the shift). Those people are supposed to be allowed to vote by provisional ballot at the polls, but it isn't clear whether this is being offered by the poll workers. Turnout has been high.

(See report below for more registration probs reported.)

11:00am ET: Registration roll probs in Philly, provisionals only handed out if both machines malfunction. From Philly Inquirer/Daily News PA Primary Blog...

[Watchdog group] Committee of Seventy...says turnout is high, and the two issues that appear to be most prevalent are:

Voters whose names are not in the poll book; and voters who are registered as members of one party in the poll book, but who are, in fact, registered as a member of another party.

We've seen problems with registration rolls all season long, as many states have turned to privatizing them with some of the same voting machine companies that have failed so miserably to even get the voting machine part right.

Most polling places in Philly are equipped with two machines. According to Inquirer/Daily News' blog, even if one breaks down, causing long lines, paper ballots are not given out. In the event of machine failure, they say, "provisional ballots" are only to be handed out if...

Both voting machines in a division break down. If at least one machine is operable, the official policy of the Philadelphia Board of Elections is that voters must use that machine rather than be given a provisional ballot.

10:50am ET: Both machines break down, 100's leave without voting, Obama's name not on provisional ballot! From Philly Inquirer/Daily News PA Primary Blog...

We continue to hear reports of broken machines. This tale was reported to the Daily News by a very patient voter:

"I just came from voting. Finally got my vote in at 49 ward, 07 division....after waiting for (the only) 2 voting machines to be repaired.

"I was able to cast my vote for Obama after waiting 1 and 1/2 hours. During that time at least 100 voters left without voting.....possibly not to return.

"I immediately called every News channel I could get through to. Persons who answered at the stations informed me that my ward was not the only one with broken machines and 'Paper ballots (as an alternative) without Obama's name on it. These provisional ballots did have Hiliary's [sic] name on them."

10:45am ET: Electrical probs lead to ES&S iVotronic machine malfunctions, use of paper ballots in Green Tree. From CBS affiliate KDKA 2...

Poll workers think a short power outage may have caused an early issue for about two-dozen voters in Green Tree.

According to Debbie Moskala, some voters had to use paper ballots to cast their vote because of a glitch with one of the machines at the Marian Manor senior living facility.

"When we first started voting this morning, one machine wouldn't work," Moskala told KDKA, "…. so we did paper ballots. We had about 20 people go through with paper ballots and vote that way."
Moskala says they've used the voting machines several times in the past and haven't had any previous problems.

She believes the electricity to the facility may have triggered the outage.

"We did have a problem with the electricity for a minute. It must have gone off and on – and maybe that triggered what the problem ended up being."

10:44am ET: Machine breakdowns in Delaware County and South Philly. From Philly Inquirer/Daily News PA Primary Blog...

Readers and Inquirer reporters attempting to cast ballots this morning found long lines across the region created by broken machines.

One of two machines was down at a busy Delaware County polling site. About 50 people already had voted by 9:15 a.m. at the Temple Israel on Spruce and Bywood Avenue in Upper Darby, which is heavily populated by immigrant and first time voters. Many of those freshly-minted voters had difficulties using the one machine that still functioned. "Hell of a day for one of the machines to be down," said one poll worker.

In South Philadelphia, both voting machines were broken at 4th and Ritner
One reader wrote: I got to my polling place before 7 a.m.; 2nd ward, 27th division: as the polls were opening, one of two machines for my division was malfunctioning: electrical problem.
In the city's Spring Garden section, home to State Sen. Vincent Fumo, both machines were down at St. Andrews Lithuananian Church at 19th and Wallace. Voters grumbled when they learned their provisional ballots would not be counted tonight.

9:45am ET: Ballot design probs in Palmer Township (Northhampton County). Delegates not listed under candidates. From Lehigh Valley Live...

Palmer Township resident Ritann Tosto wants to warn voters to read the fine print beneath the delegate candidates' names. Tosto, 59, said she assumed the delegates listed beneath Sen. Barack Obama's name were his supporters, and the delegates beneath Sen. Hillary Clinton's name were hers.

That's not the case, she reports after voting at St. Andrew's Lutheran Church.

"Fortunately, I put my rather thick reading glasses on," Tosto said. "In the lightest italic, smallest print under the delegates .... It states who they are committed to. And it is the tiniest print in the whole space, and they're mixed."

She admits she has trouble with her eyes, but believes the setup is "incredibly misleading."

"Had I not read the sample ballot, I wouldn't have known. I would've voted for all the wrong people," Tosto said.

When she returned home she called the Northampton County election office to inquire about the reason for the setup, but got no answer.
She said no one else who was voting while she was there seemed confused, so they either understood or made the same assumption she did at first, and voted for the wrong delegates.

(Graphic of the ballot in question here.)

9:43am ET: Fewer machines in Northhampton County this year. From Lehigh Valley Live...

Retired Rabbi Jonathan Gerard, 60, of Easton, was concerned --- as were many voters --- that there was just one electronic voting machine [made by Sequoia] in the polling place, where for years there had been two mechanical machines. Poll workers said it was because Northampton County went from 600 uncertified machines to 300 machines from a different vendor.

6:15am PT: Machines "on fritz" as Philly polls opened, voters given provisionals. From Philly Inquirer/Daily News PA Primary Blog...

Both machines were on the fritz as polls opened at St. Andrew’s Lithuanian Church, 19th & Wallace Streets, in the city’s Spring Garden neighborhood.
The polls, five blocks from outgoing state senator Vince Fumo home, are in the 16th division, 15th ward.
Early voters were asked to fill out provisional ballots. More than 20 people did so and left grumbling when they learned their ballots wouldn’t be counted tonight.
By 7:30 a.m. election workers got the two machines up and running on batteries.

9:14am ET: Voting machines malfunctioned, votes lost in Bethlehem. From Morning Call...

In Bethlehem...When judge of elections Craig Hynes swung open the doors, 15 people rushed in, including some that had been their since 6:40 a.m....Hynes said. "This is going to be a long day."

Moments later he realized how long it could be when one of his three voting machines malfunctioned. After four people had voted, he realized that it had only registered one voter. He had to reset machine.

"We lost three voters and there's no getting them back," explained Hynes, "and at this point we don't even know who they were."

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