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Election 2012: Voting issues emerge

Long lines, voter IDs, crashed computers were reported following Tuesday's voting. The effects of hurricane Sandy were a factor in New York and New Jersey. 

By Deborah CharlesReuters / November 6, 2012

Shari Frost shows her ID to a poll worker before voting even though it is optional in this year's election at Samuel Everett Elementary School in Levittown, Pa., Tuesday.

AP Photo/Bucks County Courier Times, Kim Weimer

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WASHINGTON

U.S. voters complained about erratic implementation of voter ID laws, while long lines and makeshift polling sites in storm-hit New York and New Jersey added to confusion in a bitterly contested presidential election.

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Watchdog groups reported complaints from people turned away from polls because they did not have identification in states like Pennsylvania, where ID was not required. In swing states Virginia and Florida, long lines led to numerous complaints and fears that people would give up without casting a ballot, while large numbers of people in Ohio reported being forced to vote by provisional ballot.

It was unclear what impact the voting irregularities might have on an election that caps a close presidential campaign between Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

Throughout the day, voters in Pennsylvania, which saw court battles over controversial voter ID requirements, reported getting conflicting messages over whether an identification was required to vote. A federal judge had ruled the new voter ID law could not be implemented this election because there was not enough time to ensure all registered voters had proper identification.

But poll workers were still requesting voter IDs, and reports surfaced of people being turned away if they could not produce one, witnesses and watchdog groups reported.

"Poll workers have been poorly and wrongfully trained, and they are standing there and sitting there and requiring people to show ID, and sending people home if they don't have the ID," said Barbara Arnwine, executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights.

The Lawyers' Committee, which helps run an Election Protection hot line that collects reports of problems at the polls, said there were signs outside some voting areas in parts of Pennsylvania falsely telling people they needed an ID.

Pennsylvania's ID rules were among a raft of new voting laws passed mostly by Republican-led legislatures in dozens of states since 2011. The courts have thrown out the harshest of the new laws, or at least ordered delayed implementation.

Republicans had their own complaints in Pennsylvania. The party got a court order to reinstate 75 Republican election officials in Philadelphia who allegedly were prohibited from entering polling places.

Election Protection had received more than 80,000 calls from people reporting various problems. Many of the calls came from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.

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