Early voting has started in several states, bringing along with it the same reliable stories about long lines, intentional confusion, poor infrastructure and other forms of voter suppression, accidental and otherwise.
In recent days, states across the country saw their registration websites crash at critical times. In certain Georgia precincts, the wait times to vote ballooned upwards of 10 hours. Texas officials thought one ballot drop-box per county, whether that county have 100 or 1 million people, was more than enough. And out in California, there are outright attempts to have voters unwittingly throw their ballots in the trash.
The sheer amount of institutional failure can be a bit much to keep up with, so we’ve broken down the issues that have cropped up so far by state.
It’s a common misconception that California is solidly blue throughout. While the massive cities and coastal towns help secure the state in presidential elections for Democrats, the Republican Party is still a force. After all, California gave us Ronald Reagan and elected Arnold Schwarznegger to two terms. Now, republicans have admitted to a scheme meant to harvest ballots in Republican areas, setting up their own ballot drop boxes near churches, gun shops and party offices.
The Secretary of State Alex Padilla called the ballot boxes, which are nearly indistinguishable from the state’s official and highly regulated ballot drop boxes, illegal.
“Misleading voters is wrong regardless of who is doing it,” he said, according to the New York Times.
The state GOP has refused to stop the practice, claiming that ballot harvesting is not illegal in California. Padilla countered, saying that the ballot boxes were intentionally designed to “mislead voters and erode the public trust” and therefore were not protected under the law.
Voting doesn’t start in Florida for a few more weeks, but state Democrats are already accusing the Republican administration of suppressing the vote. On the final day to register to vote ahead of the election, the state’s registration portal crashed.
In light of the long battle for felon enfranchisement that’s been waged in the state since voters overwhelmingly approved giving former convicts back their voting rights, Democratic leadership saw the malfunction as something more sinister.
“This is just latest attempt from the Republican leaders in Florida to limit democracy,” Florida Democratic Party chair Terrie Rizzo said . “The Florida Voter Registration website not working on the last day to register to vote in Florida is blatant voter suppression. Fix the website, stop the suppression, and let democracy work."
Georgia holds the title for worst wait times so far. Voters in the Atlanta metro area reported wait times of up to 12 hours. In the polling place set up at Atlanta’s State Farm Arena, the system that was used to pull up voter information crashed.
Pennsylvania’s voter service website crashed over the weekend. Rather than a malicious attack or sheer overload, the state blamed the outage on an equipment failure at a third-party contractor charged with handling their data. They do not believe any of the data was compromised.
Virginia’s voter registration portal crashed on October 13, the last day to register in that state. Officials claim that an accidentally severed cable is to blame. The Department of Elections said that they were working to resolve the problem quickly.
"Due to a network outage, the Citizen Portal is temporarily unavailable. We are working with our network providers to restore service as quickly as possible," the department said on its website.
Later on Tuesday, a Virginia judge granted a request to extend voter registration for 48 hours, saying the website crash caused “a tremendous harm” to those who wanted to register to vote.