Activists sue US states over EVM delays

Published: November 07, 2018 11:54:55 | Updated: November 08, 2018 12:36:49


Americans cast their ballots on electronic machines while voting during midterm elections in San Juan Capistrano, California, US November 6, 2018. Reuters

Voting rights activists successfully sued Georgia and Texas asking them to extend voting hours in some counties after problems with voting machines led to delays and long lines thanks to a big turnout in US elections on Tuesday.

A suit by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Arizona failed, the group said. But it won an extension in Fulton County, Georgia, one county in about a dozen US states that experienced delays, largely in sites still using aging voting machines overwhelmed by the volume of voters, according to officials and rights groups.

Other Georgia polling places extended hours without facing lawsuits.

Two Texas civil rights groups won a lawsuit to secure longer voting hours in Harris County, Texas, after polling locations in the Houston area opened late due to equipment glitches and other issues.

In Ohio, a court ordered the state to provide ballots to voters who were being held in pre-trial detention in county jails, following a lawsuit filed the same day by two public interest groups.

The US Department of Homeland Security described the problems as “sparse,” and an official told reporters they did not seem to have been a significant impediment to voting in the elections, which will determine if Republicans keep control of both the US House of Representatives and Senate.

Some Georgia voters saw lines of hundreds of people waiting to cast ballots to pick their next governor following a bitter and racially charged contest in the southern state. Two Georgia polling places near the historically black colleges Spelman and Morehouse agreed to remain open until 10 pm ET (0300 GMT) following a legal challenge, the NAACP civil rights group said.

Fulton County officials did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment.

In Maricopa County, Arizona’s largest which includes the Phoenix area, several polling places experienced delays due to printer malfunctions, County Recorder Adrian Fontes said.

The Lawyers’ Committee lost its suit to extend voting hours at fifty polling locations in the county, the committee’s head, Kristen Clarke, told reporters in a conference call.

“We know for a fact that there are people in Maricopa County who were not able to have their voice heard this evening,” Clarke said.

Two senior legal experts who advise the Democratic Party said they were unaware of any serious hacking or electronic disruptions related to Tuesday’s elections anywhere in the United States. But one of the experts said that lines at polling places in Georgia were long and disruptive, reports Reuters.

Officials in Philadelphia and North Carolina reported scattered voting machine outages, and addressed the problems by offering provisional ballots to some voters. Voter advocacy groups alleged equipment-driven delays in Florida and Texas.

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