THE PLANK NOVEMBER 4, 2008
We're here in downtown D.C. at the headquarters for Election Protection, a non-partisan group that's fast becoming a clearinghouse for voter panic across the land. A few dozen volunteers are working the phones and laptops here in the call center, listening to tales of electoral woe and advising distressed voters on how to make sure their votes are counted (866-OUR-VOTE). The group is hoping their log of reports will become "the most comprehensive picture of election irregularities" in the country. So far, the phones are busy: Some 9,000 calls and emails have already come in this morning, reporting everything from busted voter machines to "intimidating" police presences to wet ballots (!). A lot of the calls are coming in from--you guessed it--Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, and North Carolina, along with other swing states and tossups.
Among the most serious issues reported so far (not all substantiated, keep in mind): Numerous callers attesting to broken machines en masse in Columbus and Philly; no ballots to be found at a precinct in Tallahassee; and flyers are being distributed in PA and VA telling people to vote on Wednesday rather than today. But it's the isolated calls that really get at the tension. A citizen in N.C. says the local precinct ran out of ballots by 8 a.m. A Philly caller complains of McCain/Palin signs being plastered on their polling building.
Another says their precinct in Chesterfield, VA, has just one machine, and it's "extremely slow." Another caller insists the machines at his precinct would allow voters to cast a ballot for Obama but not for McCain. Callers from around the country are complaining that machines are down. And as if that wasn't enough, a lone citizen reports "general disorganization" at a bingo hall-turned-polling place in Queens.
Keep the dial here for reports of electoral dysfunction throughout the day.