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NY Times: 'Ill-equipped' states brace for Election Day chaos

RAW STORY
Published: Wednesday October 18, 2006

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Election officials are scrambling to prepare for difficulties expected on November 7, the New York Times will report Thursday in an article to appear on its front page.

"As dozens of states are enforcing new voter registration laws and switching to paperless electronic voting systems, officials across the country are bracing for a chaotic Election Day with long lines, heightened confusion and an increase in the number of contested results," writes Ian Urbina. "Talk about panic," said one top election official. "I've got gray-haired ladies as poll workers standing around looking stunned."

Among the states most likely to encounter election difficulties, the article lists California, Maryland, Ohio and Pennsylvania, where incumbent GOP Sen. Rick Santorum trails Democrat Bob Casey, Jr. in recent polls.

One of the key problems officials are struggling with, Urbina writes, is "a chronic shortage of poll workers, many of them retirees uncomfortable with new technology..."

Excerpts from the article follow:

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WASHINGTON -- New electronic voting machines have arrived in Yolo County, Calif., but there is one hitch: The audio program for the visually impaired in some of them works only in Vietnamese.

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In Maryland, Mississippi and Pennsylvania, a shortage of technicians has vendors for new machines soliciting applications for technical support workers on job Web sites like Monster.com. Oakley, who is also facing a shortage, raided the computer science department at the University of California, Davis, hiring 60 graduate students as troubleshooters.

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"We've got new laws, new technology, heightened partisanship and a growing involvement of lawyers in the voting process," said Tova Wang, who studies elections for the Century Foundation, a nonpartisan research group. "We also have the greatest potential for problems in more places next month than in any voting season before."

Election officials in many of the states are struggling with delays in the delivery of machines in the lead-up to the election as old-fashioned lever and punch-card machines are phased out.

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