Lines, glitches, snafus, boobs, in other words a typical election
Pre-election fears of hacking, intimidation don’t play out
By M. Mindy Moretti
Cyberattacks! Fraud! Rigging! Violence! Those were some of the headlines that screamed at voters and elections officials in the days leading up to the 2016 general election, but in the light of the day, the 2016 election turned out to be far less chaotic than many people anticipated.
Yes, there were lines. There were machine malfunctions. There were fights. Some people were denied their right to vote. There were boobs. But with turnout hovering around 55 percent, from a seasoned-election observers eye, the 2016 election was fairly business as usual—at least as far as the process goes.
This week, given time constraints, we’re just doing a brief review of Election Day 2016. Next week we’ll take a look at what happened — good, bad, silly and sad — state-by-state and in the coming weeks we’ll drill down into some of the bigger issues that arose, why they arose and what the next steps are. You can also check out our Election Day Dispatches.
And while we know that ballots are still being counted (and recounted in some places) and the election still needs to be canvassed and certified we do hope that elections officials across the country can take a deep breath.
(Editor's Note: We asked our friends to send us pictures of their kids with "I Voted" stickers to share so we hope you appreciate these photos this week and next. These are some of our most favorite people.).
Poll watchers — this really turned out to be a non-issue this election. Although there were definitely poll watchers at some locations on Election Day, there were very few reports of problems from those there specifically to watch the polls.
Ballot selfies — although there were reports of Baltimore’s top prosecutor posting and then deleting her ballot selfie and one candidate’s son doing the same thing, at this point, it doesn’t seem like the phenomena created a problem on Election Day.
Voter ID — there actually seemed to be more reports of problems with voter ID in states that don’t actually require it — Pennsylvania and New Jersey — than those that do.
Voting machines — there were scattered problems of voting machines issues throughout the day, but nothing systematic or even countywide other than in Washington County, Utah which suffered problems. All the other machine problems seemed to be on a polling place-by-polling place basis, which is typical.
Lines/Turnout — although there were often long lines throughout the day at many polling places there were no real reports of voters voting late into the night like in 2012. At this point, turnout is hovering right around 55 percent which is the lowest it’s been since 2000.
Weather — Election Day weather didn’t seem to impact turnout or the process, but there are still concerns that Hurricane Matthew and relocated polling places from earlier flooding could have impacted turnout in the impacted areas.
Secretary of state races — we will have five new secretaries of state after the first of the year: Jay Aschroft in Missouri (R), Corey Stapleton (R) in Montana, Maggie Toulouse Oliver (D) in New Mexico, Dennis Richardson (R) in Oregon, and Mac Warner (R) in West Virginia. Jim Condos (D) was re-elected in Vermont and Kim Wyman (R) was re-elected in Washington. Also, Lt. Governor Spencer Cox (R) was re-elected in Utah.
Ballot measures — several elections-related ballot measures were on the docket this year. Ranked choice voting was approved in Maine and Benton County, Oregon. Voter ID was approved in Missouri. San Francisco voters voted to allow non-citizens to vote in local elections, but they did not approve of 16- and 17-year olds voting. Alaska residents will now automatically be registered to vote through the state’s PFD (Permanent Fund Dividend) system. Residents in Knoxville will be going to the polls a little earlier in the future after voting to move their primaries from September to August. Elections in South Dakota will remain partisan after voters defeated a Constitutional Amendment that would have made federal (other than president), state and local races nonpartisan. And finally, in Colorado, that state will return to presidential primaries instead of caucuses beginning in 2020 and unaffiliated voters will be allowed to vote in those elections.
Polling Places — and there were of course the usual hodge podge of issues at polling sites across the country. Some ran out of I Voted stickers (gasp). Some lost power. Some opened late. Some ran out of ballots. Some were on lock down because of nearby violent incidents. There were some fights. There were some boobs. But oddly, as far as we can tell no one drove their car into one.
Early voting — Early voting was strong until the end with Arizona even opening three emergency early voting sites on Monday, but those record-breaking numbers didn’t seem to translate into record breaking overall turnout numbers. What drove early voting remains to be seen. Was it simply that more states offer it and more voters are aware of it, or was it something else?
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