Problems with voting machines were preventing some Americans from casting ballots in a dozen states in Tuesday’s congressional elections, U.S. rights advocates said, following complaints about registration problems, faulty equipment and intimidation they have received throughout early balloting.
Democrats and advocacy groups said they have been grappling with a diverse crop of new voting restrictions for these elections, which will determine whether Republicans keep control of the U.S. Congress. Thirty-six governorships and hundreds of state offices are also up for grabs.
A U.S. Department of Homeland Security official told reporters the agency had received reports of “sparse” voting technology failures, but said that so far they appeared to have had no significant impact in preventing people from voting.
Broken voting machines were reported in at least 12 states by noon (1700 GMT) on Tuesday, according to an “election protection” coalition of more than 100 groups that set up a national hotline for reporting irregularities.
In Georgia, where the election included a tight, bitter race for governor, the state sent investigators to look into problems with digital poll books, said state spokeswoman Candice Broce. Some voters were given provisional ballots instead of using regular voting machines, she said.
Postal worker Shirley Thorn, 56, said technical problems caused her to wait more than four hours at a polling station in Snellville, Georgia, to cast her ballot.
“I was determined I was going to cast my ballot today because it’s a very important election,” Thorn said.
Rights groups say provisional ballots are less reliable than regular ballots because they require information about voters to be verified before the votes are counted.
“We’re fully prepared to mount emergency litigation to push back against some of the systemic problems that sometimes rear their heads in our elections,” said Kristen Clarke, head of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which leads the election protection coalition.
The committee said it planned to demand that Maricopa County, Arizona, extend hours at polling places where systemic issues such as problems with voting machine printers caused the polls to open late or not at all.
Civil rights groups have already been locked in litigation with several states over voting restrictions that were passed in the lead-up to Tuesday’s election.
North Dakota introduced a voter ID requirement that Native Americans say discriminates against them; Kansas and Georgia moved polling locations, and changes in Tennessee registration laws led to people being removed from the voting lists.
Advocacy groups said the changes stack the deck against minority voters who are likely to support Democratic candidates.
Each of those hotly contested states’ top election officials have said the changes were made to protect against voter fraud and accommodate budgetary constraints, not to suppress voting.
Independent studies have found that voter fraud is extremely rare in the United States.
“We’re seeing a tug of war for the soul of this country,” said Jamal Watkins, who leads civic engagement at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or NAACP, a member of the committee.
Referring to the state officials usually charged with overall supervision of elections, he added: “It’s become the norm for a secretary of state who’s conservative to use their position to suppress the vote, and that means we’ve hit a crisis point in our democracy.”
The intense political environment has led to a surge in interest from people offering to help monitor polling stations.
Hotline traffic in recent weeks was higher than in the previous U.S. midterm elections in 2014, said Marcia Johnson-Blanco, an official with the Lawyers’ Committee.
Common Cause said it has signed up more than 6,500 volunteers, compared to 3,000 in the 2016 presidential election.
Reporting by Julia Harte in Washington and Maria Caspani in Snellville, Georgia; Additional reporting by Christopher Bing in Washington; Editing by Jim Finkle, Grant McCool and Frances Kerry
Brian Williams compares Corey Lewandowski’s opening statement to the North Korean news lady
MSNBC host Brian Williams on Tuesday noted the similarities between former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and North Korean news anchor Ri Chun Hee.
"Corey Lewandowski, the former Trump campaign manager who is now considering a Senate run in New Hampshire, testified before the House Judiciary Committee today," Williams reported. "It is likely his North Korean anchorwoman-quality opening remarks were meant were one viewer (Donald Trump)."
Ri, who has earned the nickname "Pink Lady," is known for her enthusiastic reading of government-approved news.
Watch the video below from MSNBC.
‘Train-wreck of a witness’: Analysts nail ‘obstructive’ Corey Lewandowski for proving the Democrats’ case
Political commentator Catherine Rampell disagreed with New York Times columnist Frank Bruni that the Democrats faltered during the hearing with Corey Lewandowski Tuesday. Former state and federal prosecutor Elie Honig called Lewandowski a "train-wreck of a witness."
She explained that Democrats had an extremely low bar: they had to prove Trump obstructed justice and that Corey Lewandowski gave one of the examples of such obstructions. In that sense, Rampell said they accomplished their goals.
"I don’t think this was a great day for Corey Lewandowski," she began. "This is a guy who went on TV and announced to the world -- apparently at the same time he is also trying to fundraise for Senate -- that he lies most of the time. Except when he's under oath."
WATCH: Ana Navarro keeps shouting down Trump booster — even as CNN host cuts to commercial
President Donald Trump cheered on his top Hispanic advisor Steve Cortes, who appeared before a New Mexico audience. Trump asked Cortes which he loved more, Hispanics or America, which prompted CNN's Ana Navarro to blast the president for racism. Meanwhile, Trump's latest CNN shill cried "political correctness."
"Look, I suspect he didn't want to offend Steve Cortes and I suspect Steve Cortes was not offended," Navarro said. "But really what a stupid thing to say. Right? To somehow ask the question about whether you love the country more than you love Hispanics -- they are one and the same."