Controversy in some battleground states on Election Day - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Controversy in some battleground states on Election Day

(Washington-NBC) Nov. 2, 2004 - Long lines and legal battles could make for a long election day. In Ohio, last minute court appeals cleared the way for voter challengers to be stationed at the precincts, and that's not the only state facing legal hurdles.

As voters lined up outside polling stations throughout the Buckeye State, voter challengers waited inside. Overnight, a federal court reversed a "poll challenger" ruling, permitting political parties to monitor the validity of voter registrations on election day.

In Pennsylvania, Florida and New Jersey most voters were willing to endure the wait so they could officially weigh in on the issues facing the nation. Voter Ami Young says, "This is probably the most important election, at least that I've seen."

A spokeswoman for Florida's top election official says things went "going smoothly" in the state, four years after an Election Day that took weeks to unravel. But lines were long in parts of Florida. At the University of Miami, some voters reported waiting three hours.
     
In Broward County, ten of the new touch-screen voting machines failed. Similar problems were reported in Tallahassee. And one polling site in Orange County opened eleven minutes late. Hundreds of attorneys, poll-watchers and international observers are on hand to keep an eye on the balloting in Florida.
     
Elections officials have been assuring voters that the new touch-screen machines and other changes would avoid a repeat of the fiasco of four years ago.

Republican election observers claimed there were thousands of votes on some voting machines in Philadelphia when the polls opened. But, city election officials and the district attorney who went to check it out quickly said the poll-watchers had gotten it wrong.

They say the observers had pulled the numbers from a counter that records every vote ever cast on the machine in every election. It's not the same as the counter that records how many votes will be counted in this election. A deputy city commissioner says the charge was "absolutely ridiculous." That didn't keep rumors of fraud from making their way onto the Internet.

Ohioans are expected to vote in record numbers, and nearly three-quarters will use those infamous punch-card ballots. And, much of the Buckeye State is bracing for ugly weather.

Both sides are hoping for a clear victor on election night, but they say that if provisional ballots have to be counted it could be two weeks before a winner is declared.

Updated 10:39pm by Chris Rees

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