Committee of Seventy says dozens of problems but "it's normal”

Mark Fazlollah reports:

9:20 a.m.

A computerized map of voting problems lit up the wall at the Committee of Seventy, Philadelphia’s non-partisan election watchdog group.

There were voting machine breakdowns, lines of up to 500 people snaking outside polling sites and election officials resorting to paper ballots to ease the crush.

“It’s normal,” said Jonathan David, director of the committee’s voter services.

As of 8:30 a.m., committee workers had fielded complaints from 44 poling sites. But David said it was better than experienced during the primary elections.

To win, Democrats traditionally must tally a huge majority in the Philadelphia. Republicans count on the more rural areas.

The most serious problems in Philadelphia occurred in the primarily African-American neighborhoods, which have voted overwhelmingly Democratic year after year.

In 19th precinct of West Philadelphia’s 46th Ward, voters reported that all three machines were broken and election workers had resorted to using paper ballots. About people were waiting and many were leaving, the committee complaint report said.

in the 31st Ward’s 4th precinct, voters complained that one of the two machines were broken and there were no provisional ballots.

In the 59th Ward’s 5th precinct, only one of the machines was working when the polling site opened. There was a line of about 500 people waiting to vote.

There were fewer problems in Northeast Philadelphia, where the Republican Party is stronger. But in the 63d Ward’s 23d precinct, there were no voting machines, no paper ballots and election officials were turning people away, the committee reported.

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