WASHINGTON — Voters in key states such as Florida and Virginia waited in long lines hours after polls closed Tuesday night to cast ballots, even as politicians and their supporters urged them not to give up despite the long delays.
Candidates turned to social media to encourage voters through the long wait. "(hash)StayInLine (hash)StayInLine (hash)StayInLine" Wisconsin Democratic Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin tweeted. The three states allow voters who were in line when polls closed to cast ballots.
High turnout rather than glitches or problems appeared to be the cause of the long lines, but there were plenty of other problems around the country. Many were in Pennsylvania, including a confrontation involving Republican inspectors over access to some polls and a voting machine that lit up for Republican Mitt Romney even when a voter pressed the button for President Barack Obama.
One Florida elections office mistakenly told voters in robocalls the election was on Wednesday.
The Election Protection coalition of civil rights and voting access groups said they had gotten more than 80,000 complaints and questions on a toll-free voter protection hotline.
"The calls have been hot and heavy all day long," said Barbara Arnwine, president of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
Aside from the lines and scattered other scattered problems with voter access and machine failures, there didn't appear to be any wholesale disenfranchisement of voters, few tense confrontations among poll monitors and no major instances of election fraud.
"Despite the shameful attempts to suppress voting, voters are standing up," said Bob Edgar, president and chief executive of Common Cause.
Still, Election Day was far from glitch-free. And voters faced a whole different set of challenges in parts of New York and New Jersey ravaged by Superstorm Sandy.
In Philadelphia, the Republican Party said 75 legally credentialed voting inspectors were blocked from polling places in the heavily Democratic city, prompting the GOP to obtain a court order providing them access. Local prosecutors were also looking into the reports. Democratic Party officials did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Also in Pennsylvania, Department of State spokesman Ron Ruman said the voting machine in the central part of the state that switched a person's vote from Obama to Romney has been recalibrated and is back in service. Video of what Ruman called a "momentary glitch" was widely viewed on YouTube.
Pennsylvania was also the scene of what a state Common Cause official called "widespread" confusion over voter ID requirements. The state this year enacted a new photo ID requirement but it was put on hold for Tuesday's election by a judge amid concern many voters would not be able to comply in time.
Barry Kauffman, executive director of Common Cause in Pennsylvania, said election workers in many places were demanding IDs even though they are not required. It was unclear, however, just how many voters may have been turned away or discouraged.
Also in Philadelphia, a judge ordered a mural of Obama covered up after a Republican election worker snapped a picture of it at a school polling place, according to a statement from the Republican Party.
For information on the reopening, go to www.srcity.org/emergency or call 707-543-4511.