US midterm elections: Florida vote hit by claims of malfunctioning voting machines

Crist’s team also claimed there were hours-long lines at polling stations

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As the razor’s edge gubernatorial race in Florida inched towards its climax last night, Democrat candidate Charlie Crist’s camp claimed malfunctioning voting machines and conflicting information over where to cast their ballots had confused and discouraged many voters.

Mr Crist’s team also claimed there were hours-long lines at polling stations in several Democrat-leaning African-American communities in the Sunshine State’s Broward County. Yet a judge denied a motion filed late on election day by the Crist campaign, which had urged the authorities to extend voting hours from 7pm to 9pm.

Though the number of votes potentially affected by the problems was small, every ballot counts in the race between Mr Crist, a former Republican governor of Florida, now running as a Democrat against GOP incumbent Rick Scott. The contest is considered an early indicator of what might happen at the Presidential election in 2016, especially since a friendly governor will be able to help nudge the vote towards his party’s candidate in the perennial swing state.

 

Broward County earned electoral notoriety 14 years ago, when its 1,800 disputed ballots became crucial in the controversial recount of the Florida presidential vote, and ultimately helped to send George W Bush to the White House.

In the motion, the Crist campaign cited “several individual and systemic breakdowns that made it difficult for voters to cast regular ballots.” One Broward County polling station at a primary school reportedly suffered a power cut, while some voters claimed that when they arrived to cast their ballots, they were told that they had already voted. However, the local Supervisor of Elections, Brenda Snipes, told the media that the problems had not prevented people from voting.

Voting irregularities were also reported in a handful of other states during Tuesday’s midterm elections. In Connecticut two polling stations extended their evening voting hours because they had failed to receive their printed ballots before voting began at 6am. South Dakota officials said that state’s results would be delayed after one county’s polls opened an hour late.

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