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Election Connection

February 5, 2008

Super Tuesday voters find machine hiccups and delays, but voting goes smoothly

Scattered voting problems, including machine glitches and long lines, emerged in some states on the biggest Super Tuesday ever held in America. But overall, voting appeared to go smoothly.

A record turnout was expected as an unprecedented 24 states held primaries and caucuses to narrow the field for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominee.

Eight precincts in Chicago had minor problems and a ninth was expected to stay open for several extra hours after misplaced voting equipment caused a nearly two-hour delay in opening the polls.

Cook County Clerk David Orr said no major problems had been reported. "We had other calls that the polls were slow, one precinct opened at 6:15 (instead of 6 a.m.), and another where they were missing a certain kind of ballot ... but we don't think we lost any voters," he said.

At a Chicago hot dog joint doubling as a polling place, a technical glitch left only one touch-screen machine in use, making the line to vote much longer than the queue at U Lucky Dawg's counter, where the specials of the day included a Flying Mario Burrito for $3.09.

In Georgia, where voters are now required to present photo identification, wait times in some areas were as long as 90 minutes because for the first time in a major election, poll workers had to compare IDs against computerized registration records.

A spokeswoman for Democratic hopeful Barack Obama said the campaign was considering asking Georgia officials to keep at least one Atlanta precinct open late because it didn't open on time. Heavy turnout and sporadic computer problems may prompt additional requests for extended poll hours, said Obama spokeswoman Adora Andy.

"That (comparison) process with the computer terminals is very slow, and that can create some long lines," said Clare Schexnyder of Election Protection, a national election monitoring group. "We're finally figuring out that it's not that there are not enough voting machines, it's the check-in process."

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