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Disabled Voters Face Obstacles at Polls

Most of us take for granted that when we go to vote, we’ll be able to cast our own ballots. But for disabled people, there’s no such guarantee.

Rob Kerney assumed he would be able to vote in private for the first time Tuesday. Because he is blind, Kerney needs to use audio voting equipment or have someone else help him mark his ballot. When he went to vote in Vanderburgh County, Indiana, a poll worker gave him some bad news: His polling place didn’t have the correct headphones to use with their audio voting machine.

Jennifer LaFleur, The Center for Investigative Reporting

Voters Encounter Problems, But Not The Ones Most Feared

For all of the ways the 2016 presidential election was extraordinary — particularly Donald Trump’s repeated assertion that the vote was being “rigged” — the actual balloting on Tuesday was largely without serious incident.

“Despite expectations this would be an unusual election, this election largely played out as previous presidential elections,” said David Becker, the executive director of The Center for Election Innovation & Research. “Sporadic problems here and there, but election officials were remarkably well-prepared and this resulted in a largely smooth Election Day.”

Derek Willis

What We Don’t Know: The Full Effect Of Voter Suppression and Voter ID Laws

As we and others have extensively documented, voters are facing a range of barriers this election, from shuttered polling places and long lines to new, stringent voter ID laws, largely pushed through by Republicans and disproportionately affecting minority voters.

As journalist Ari Berman, who covers the voting rights beat, pointed out today, this is the first presidential election in half a century without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act. The 2013 Supreme Court ruling Shelby County v. Holder invalidated federal oversight of states with a history of voting discrimination.

But quantifying exactly how much the changes have depressed turnout is nearly impossible.

Justin Elliott

Why Doesn’t NYC Set Up Voting Sites the Night Before Election Day?

This morning, a few New York City polling places opened late because ballots and poll books were misdelivered. Some voters waited as election officials looked for and retrieved the correct materials. Others voted by affidavit ballot instead, and some left.

In New York City, poll workers are expected to be at their poll sites at 5 a.m. Election Day morning to set up. This gives them one hour before poll sites open.

But elsewhere, it’s fairly common to set up before Election Day morning, according to Tammy Patrick, an election expert with the Bipartisan Policy Center. “I was an election administrator for over a decade in Arizona and the majority of our sites were set up before Election Day,” Patrick said. Depending on the facility, they might set up the night before or over the weekend leading up to Election Day.

Setting up early would give poll workers an opportunity to identify misdelivered materials, missing signs, pen shortages, and absent poll workers, and address these issues before voters arrive.

New York City Executive Director Michael Ryan cited security as a reason to keep the voting material under lock and key before Election Day. “We don’t have control of the 1,205 poll sites so we need to secure the equipment before Election day, Wouldn’t it be a much worse scenario if you walked into an election site and you had the whole poll site set up before and we walk in to find all the voting machines stolen?”

Patrick said there are ways to maintain the security of at least some of the materials. “Equipment, ballots, rosters, and other relevant materials are secured with tamper evident seals and logs are verified that nothing has been tampered with,” said Patrick.

Additional reporting by Brigid Bergen, WNYC

Jenny Ye, WNYC

Voters Diverted From LA County Polling Places After Shooting Nearby

This post was updated at 8:30 p.m. ET.

A gunman opened fire near two polling locations in Los Angeles County, killing one person and injuring three, authorities said.

The circumstances of the incident were unclear, but the Los Angeles Times quoted an unnamed law enforcement official as saying one of the victims was on the way to vote. The Azusa Police Department said two of the three shooting victims were in critical condition.

Robert Faturechi

In Pennsylvania Voting, Words Matter. Fashion Doesn’t.

What did you wear to the polling place today?

Among the potential problems with voting, fashion would seem to rank fairly low on the scale. Yet many state laws specifically prohibit voters from wearing shirts or hats bearing the names or slogans of political candidates in polling places.

When they do, in most cases voters are asked either to remove or cover up such items, but not all states have a blanket prohibition. In Pennsylvania, where state law prohibits overt electioneering for a candidate, voters can wear clothing that has a candidate’s name or slogan on it. But not all poll workers seem to be aware of that rule.

Multiple callers to the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline from Pennsylvania voters today said they were told they could not vote while wearing clothing with campaign themes or images. Many were told they would need to wear a jacket or other piece of clothing to obscure the offending article. Almost all of them reported they were then able to vote.

Pennsylvania law reads: “No person, when within the polling place, shall electioneer or solicit votes for any political party, political body or candidate, nor shall any written or printed matter be posted up within the said room, except as required by this act.”

So it’s not what you wear to the polls in Pennsylvania. It’s what you say.

Derek Willis

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About Electionland

There is no act more central to a democracy than voting. Electionland is a project that will cover access to the ballot and problems that prevent people from exercising their right to vote during the 2016 election.

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