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Polling USA: A glitch here, a gremlin there

No widespread problems reported as polls begin closing

A Florida poll worker praises today's voting process at his Miami precinct.
A Florida poll worker praises today's voting process at his Miami precinct.

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(CNN) -- Power outages, ballot shortages and minor computer glitches were the bumps in an otherwise smooth election Tuesday.

Elections officials, some of whom had feared widespread equipment trouble, expressed relief, especially in Florida. The specter of the 2000 election -- marked by a protracted and unprecedented, post-election battle in the Sunshine State -- hung over this year's midterm races.

David Host, a spokesman for the Florida secretary of state, called the elections "an unqualified success."

Host said minor problems erupted with optical scanners at one precinct in Osceola County, one in Brevard, two in Orange and two in Duval, "but they were quickly remedied."

In Miami-Dade County, "a handful of voters" were forced to cast paper ballots for about three hours when all five machines at one polling place failed. A total of 80 paper ballots were cast.


No hanging, dimpled or pregnant chads marred the vote counting this year in Florida, but the state did experience new problems in the primary elections weeks ago, even after having spent $32 million on new voting equipment.

One 92-year-old woman in Miami even voted in her car, using a laptop computer that workers at the precinct brought out to her

Other jurisdictions reported some minor problems:

•In Pulaski County, Arkansas, home to Little Rock, the capital, Democrats were granted an injunction late Tuesday to keep the polls open until 10 p.m. ET, instead of 8:30 p.m. ET, because several polling places ran out of ballots. But the state's high court later voided that order and it was not clear what that might mean for the votes cast during that time span.

•A heavier-than-expected voter turnout in St. Louis, Missouri, caused a shortage of punch cards. More were being delivered to polling stations but the snafu was not expected to affect voting.

•In one district in Maryland, the lights went out around 6:30 p.m. ET. Voters and election workers used flashlights and candles to see the voting machines -- which still worked -- until the polls closed at 8 p.m.

•A computer glitch will delay vote counting in Tarrant County, Texas, home to Fort Worth. Gayle Hamilton, the assistant elections administrator for the county, said some 17,000 mail-in ballots from early voting and 250,000 Election Day ballots may be affected.

•A judge late Tuesday denied an injunction request by Democrats in New Mexico's Dona Ana County. They made the request after the party got calls beginning early in the morning from voters complaining that polls weren't open and judges weren't at the polling stations.

•In Georgia, the first state to implement computerized touch-screen voting in every precinct, voters reported few problems. "I am not techno, and this went along just very smooth," a voter named Shirley told CNN. "I made a mistake, had to go back, and I was very proud of myself."

•A judge in New Jersey ruled that mechanical problems in 74 machines in Camden County polling stations were not severe enough to warrant an extension of polling hours. Voters were forced to use to use paper ballots for a while. The judge's order ruled that all voting machines and provisional and emergency ballots be impounded in Cherry Hill until further notice.

•Mishaps weren't limited to the new, technologically advanced polling sites. Rep. Julia Carson, D-Indiana, was unable to cast a vote for herself because of a problem with the machine she was using. "The lever came down for my friends but it didn't come down for me," Carson said. Poll workers fixed the problem after Carson left. They tracked her down and had her come back to vote again.

•In Bloomington, Minnesota, a high turnout of voters used up all the available paper ballots for the hotly contested U.S. Senate race between Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Walter Mondale, but officials said no voters were turned away.

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