New York, New Jersey Voting Hampered By Sandy

Nov 6, 2012
Originally published on November 6, 2012 5:08 pm

Transcript

LYNN NEARY, HOST:

And now to NPR's Pam Fessler who has been covering voting issues throughout the campaign. Hi, Pam.

PAM FESSLER, BYLINE: Hello.

NEARY: So what have you been hearing so far? How's voting going? Any problems so far?

FESSLER: Well, there are always some problems, but I would say overall things are going fairly smoothly. The most serious problems, understandably, seem to be in the New York and New Jersey area, which were hit by superstorm Sandy. Election watchdog groups say they're getting thousands of phone calls from people in these states who are trying to figure out exactly where they're supposed to go vote and how - to vote.

In New Jersey, they're letting people vote by email, but there's confusion about exactly how they do that. Some people are saying that they're having problems actually getting ballots emailed to them and then getting - emailing them back because of overloaded servers. In Queens, New York, some people this morning were voting in a tent that was in the dark because of problems with a backup generator. So there's that kind of problem in that area.

In Pennsylvania, the problem that we've heard a lot about is confusion over the state's new photo ID law. As you probably recall, a judge said that people could be asked to show photo ID, but they would not - if they didn't have it, they'd still be allowed to vote. So this has caused a lot of confusion and there are reports that some people are incorrectly being turned away from the polls because they do not have photo ID.

And there are also scattered reports of people going to the polls thinking that they're registered and finding out that they're not. There was one woman in West Palm Beach, Florida, who was told that she was deceased, but she clearly was not. And many of these problems likely have to - many of these people end up having to vote provisional ballots, which could be a problem, especially in a state like Ohio.

NEARY: Ohio, where, of course, would be a problem if the vote is very close.

FESSLER: Exactly. So in Ohio, these provisional ballots are not counted for another 10 days and there's some dispute about exactly how they will be counted and that's going to be taken up in court tomorrow. And a lot of watchdog groups are worried that many of these ballots are going to be rejected because they're improperly filled out.

There were also some scattered reports in Ohio about machine problems and concerns that long lines might discourage some voters.

NEARY: And another thing we had been hearing about is the possibility of some groups challenging voters at the polls. Has there been any of that today?

FESSLER: There's been a little bit of it, but certainly nothing like a lot of liberal groups had feared. A Tea Party group called True the Vote, said earlier this year they were going to have a million poll watchers out looking for voter fraud. I'd say the number is more like maybe 10,000 and so far, have not really seen any major confrontations.

In fact, in Franklin County, Ohio the election board actually denied the True the Vote group access to the polls because they said they had improperly filled out their application forms.

NEARY: Well, thanks very much, Pam.

FESSLER: Thanks.

NEARY: NPR's Pam Fessler, talking about voting issues today. And stay with us this evening for election results and analysis. You can find at NPR.org and in our special coverage on many stations across the country. It begins at 8:00 P.M. Eastern. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.