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High voting turnout poses polling problems, chaos on U.S. Election Day
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08:26, November 05, 2008

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A technical support hotline for polling problems have received some 5,000 complaining calls as of 10:30 a.m. EST on Tuesday, the U.S. Election Day.

Millions of voters are and will be faced with an unfamiliar low-tech landscape at the polls on the Election Day. About half of the voters are expected to vote in a way that is different from what they did in the last presidential election, and most will use paper ballots rather than the touch-screen machines that have caused concern among voting experts.

According to local media, in some counties of Virginia, voters and elections officials reported paper jams on some machines and not-so-friendly touch-screen machines in some places had forced local registrars to use paper ballots instead.

At a fire station-turned polling station in Arlington, Virginia, vote workers were busy helping voters to get familiar with the touch-screen voting devices in the shortest possible time. The process seemed longer than some had expected.

According to statistics, two-thirds of voters will mark their choice with a pencil on a paper ballot that is counted by an optical scanning machine, a method considered far more reliable and verifiable than touch screens. But paper ballots bring their own potential problems, voting experts said.

The scanners can break down, leading to delays and confusion for poll workers and voters as well, experts said. In some places, vote officials were busy dealing with typical glitches, like jammed backup paper tapes on voting machines.

In addition to technical problems, long hours of waiting and other problems also caused chaos.

According to political observers, the total voters this year is likely to approach 130 million to 140 million.


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