Problems crop up early in Super Tuesday voting
Nick Juliano
Published: Tuesday February 5, 2008

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As voters head to the polls from coast to coast Tuesday, early reports indicate that more than a few have been unable to cast ballots because of malfunctioning machines and inadequate backup plans, while more problems could crop up throughout the day.

New Jersey Gov. John Corzine was one of more than a dozen voters delayed or turned away from a polling place in Hoboken, NJ, one of 24 states holding primaries or caucuses Tuesday. The Democratic governor was scheduled at his polling place around 6:15 a.m., but the two voting machines there did not work right away and a dozen or so voters were unable to cast ballots. Poll workers spent 45 minutes trying to fix the machine, and Corzine was eventually able to vote, around 7 a.m., according to a local ABC affiliate.

The Garden State is one of just a handful of Super Tuesday states that persists in using "high risk" paperless touch-screen voting machines, according to public interest group Common Cause. The New York Times reports that New Jersey is joined by Delaware and Georgia in using only the paperless machines, which make "meaningful recounts ... impossible." Most polling places in Tennessee and some Arkansas locations also will use the unauditable machines.

Responding to touch-screen concerns in California, election officials decided to decertify the electronic machines, forcing many counties to switch to paper ballots which take longer to count. The state is also expecting record turnout of 8.9 million voters Tuesday. About 2 million California voters mailed in their ballots, and those results will be released as soon as polls close at 8 p.m. pacific time (11 p.m. eastern), but poll workers could still be counting well into Wednesday morning.

"The East Coast is going to tune in the next morning, and we are still going to be counting," Steve Weir, president of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Beyond problems with touch-screen voting machines, which also caused trouble in Florida last week, voters in several states will have to battle unfriendly weather on their way to polls or caucuses. The Associated Press reports snow or rain hit Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New York and Oklahoma, all of which vote Tuesday.