Voting Issues: Long Lines In Florida, Confusion In New Jersey

The day is young, but reports of irregularities are already raining in. Throughout the day, we’ll be surveying other news organizations and keep track of irregularities in this post.

We’ll start with Florida:

In the Sunshine State some voters have waited up to three hours to cast their ballots. The Miami Herald is reporting some dramatic cases in which voters have refused to leave the line despite fainting and in the case of one man suffering a seizure while filling out his ballot.

At the Miami-Dade election headquarters in El Doral, the paper spoke to one woman who was in line holding a catheter bag.

You may remember that long lines and chaos plagued Florida’s early voting. What’s causing the long lines? It appears that it’s the length of the ballot.

ProPublica reports that the ballot includes 11 constitutional amendments:

“Backed by Republican state lawmakers, the proposed amendments among other things seek to prohibit requiring individuals or businesses to purchase or provide health care as specified under the Affordable Care Act, prohibit public funding for abortion except in certain circumstances, and allow public funding for religious organizations.

“Unlike citizen-led ballot initiatives, which require court approval and are bound to a mere 75 words, legislative amendments face no such restrictions – in either word length or quantity.”

One amendment — which proposes tax breaks for owners of vacation homes — comes in at 640 words.

If voters haven’t done their homework, they have to read their way through a ballot that in some counties is 12 pages long.

In New Jersey:

Because of Superstorm Sandy, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie authorized the use of fax and email voting.

But the Newark Star-Ledger reports that some voters who requested ballots through those methods never received them.

Perhaps most problematic, however, is that when the state announced the new provisions, they did not mention that those people voting by email or fax also need to send a hardcopy via mail.

The Star-Ledger reports that one expert thinks email voting could lead to problems:

“‘You must have a paper ballot backup,’ said Penny Venetis, a professor at Rutgers University School of Law in Newark. ‘What’s puzzling is that the lieutenant governor’s directives allow Internet voting without requiring this protection that is necessary to ensure the integrity of the vote.’

“Voters using the e-mail option still must print, sign and scan a physical ballot, then send it to their county clerk via email. But hackers can forge those ballots or signatures, send in fraudulent votes and then erase their tracks online, said Andrew Appel, a computer science professor at Princeton University.”

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