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What We Know So Far About Voting Problems

We’re updating this post throughout the evening.

The Electionland staff has been monitoring reports from polling places across America, checking to see how Election Day 2016 is playing out in real time.

So far, this is what we're seeing:

  • Confusion continues to reign about states' identification requirements. Complaints have surfaced particularly in Texas, where voters have reported erroneous signs and other issues. In some cases, voters have been given correct information -- for example, if they have ID, they are required to show it -- that they did not realize was correct. Connecticut voters also have registered complaints about voter ID -- the law there is that you can be asked to produce identification, but it's not required for you to cast your vote.

  • In Pennsylvania and elsewhere there have been reports about improper behavior in polling places, either by voters or by official or non-official observers. The most frequently reported behavior includes shouting outside voting locations, conducting ersatz exit polls, and putting signs or campaign literature in places that it's not supposed to be.

  • States have a raft of fairly typical problems getting polling places up and running properly. Problems with voting machines in New York, North Carolina, Florida and California. This exacerbated early-morning delays and lines in some places. Election officials are considering whether to keep the polls open later in Durham County, North Carolina, because of delays related to checking in voters and shortages of paper ballots.

  • Colorado's statewide voter registration database went down for almost half an hour this afternoon, a temporary glitch for the minority of voters who cast ballots in person there. Most Colorado residents vote by mail. Those that vote in person, however, can vote anywhere in the state, regardless of where they live, so the database is a key step in the check-in process.

  • Several states -- particularly Arizona and Florida -- struggled to provide obligatory support to bilingual voters.

  • According to Google Trends data, there's high search interest in several parts of the country in "inactive voter status," possibly an indication that this election is bringing out folks who haven't voted in a while. In most instances, these voters will be asked to update their registration information and can then vote normally, but some will need to cast a provisional ballot.

More as we have it.

Portrait of Robin Fields

Robin Fields

Robin Fields is a reporter with ProPublica. She joined ProPublica as a reporter in 2008, became a senior editor in 2010 and served as managing editor from 2013 to 2022 prior to returning to the reporter role.

About Electionland

ProPublica’s Electionland project covers problems that prevent eligible voters from casting their ballots during the 2020 elections. Our coalition of newsrooms around the country are investigating issues related to voter registration, pandemic-related changes to voting, the shift to vote-by-mail, cybersecurity, voter education, misinformation, and more.

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