People across New York City reported massively long lines at their polling places Tuesday, the result of various malfunctioning voting machines. In many locations, only one machine was working, causing hour-long waits, and many were reportedly forced to leave without casting a ballot.
According to ABC7, rainy weather was partially to blame. Voters’ wet hands and clothes reportedly made the ballots damp, causing them to jam the machines. The city also has two-page ballots for the first time, doubling the chances of a malfunction.
At my voting location in Brooklyn they just announced that only ONE MACHINE is working. 300 of us in line.
Two people just left and said they couldn’t wait.
This is ridiculous.
— Shaun King (@shaunking) November 6, 2018
@ABC7NY @cnn @fox5ny all the ballot machines are broken except one at ps 103 Hector Fontanez, with long lines with election officials not knowing when there going to be fixed. pic.twitter.com/aTghiJ1hIi
— Thomas Williams (@thomasliquet) November 6, 2018
At multiple locations, voters reported being asked to deposit their ballots in an Emergency Ballot Box, with the promise that their ballot would be scanned later. Many were concerned their vote would not be tallied.
Because scanners are down, voters are asked to use the Emergency Ballot Box (their votes will be scanned later).
— Jennifer Hsu (@jennhsu) November 6, 2018
ALL SCANNERS ARE BROKEN AT PS 22. They just announced that they will be collecting ballots in an emergency collection box to scan later. People are very skeptical. Totally unacceptable. Who should I contact?! #ElectionDay @NYCVotes
— Barry Hott (@binghott) November 6, 2018
— Julia Dahl (@juliadahl) November 6, 2018
Polling locations across the country are reporting very high turnout, so even at locations where machines are functioning properly, New Yorkers are facing significant wait times before they can cast their vote.
It's been 40 minutes and I'm still in line to vote. None of us have ever seen turnout like this before in this Brooklyn district. And it's pouring rain. This is astounding.@BrianLehrer @WNYC @jaketapper @chrislhayes @RonaldKlain @NBCNews pic.twitter.com/FlbCh5Ms4w
— Laurie Garrett (@Laurie_Garrett) November 6, 2018
New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson decried the malfunctions Tuesday afternoon, calling on the state legislature to create more opportunities for early voting in the future to prevent similar circumstances from preventing people from being able to vote.
Disappointed to hear scanners are broken all over NYC, making it difficult for people (including lots of new voters) to vote. We need Albany to pass early voting/other reforms ASAP in 2019 and the @BOENYC to get its act together. New Yorkers shouldn’t have to deal with this.
— NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson (@NYCSpeakerCoJo) November 6, 2018
Barbara Underwood, the state’s attorney general, confirmed that the Election Day Hotline had received complaints about the broken scanners. “Do not feel pressured to leave your poll site before you vote,” she urged.
North Carolina experienced similar problems, with election officials are likewise blaming humidity for technical difficulties. The high humidity is reportedly preventing the ballots from being fed through the scanners. Like in New York, voters are submitting their ballots in “emergency bins” that will be tabulated when possible. Officials have already planned to conduct a post-election audit to ensure these ballots were properly counted.
New York and North Carolina were hardly alone in their struggles. Georgia faced a similar combination of long lines and malfunctioning machines Tuesday, forcing voters to chose between waiting as long as four hours or turning away. At one location, election officials blamed overloaded machines and absent workers for the delays.
Across Texas, voters are also facing long lines and malfunctioning machines. One woman reported that because her bar code didn’t scan, her vote wasn’t counted and she was left to file a provisional ballot. In Arlington, Texas, one location ran out of paper ballots, motivating many people to leave without voting.
This article was updated to reflect additional information about similar voting machine issues in North Carolina.