Technical glitches and WiFi issues have delayed voting at multiple polling places across the US

  • Technical glitches temporarily delayed voting at some polling places on Tuesday as Americans lined up to cast their vote in the general election.
  • There's no evidence that the glitches were the work of malicious actors or caused by cyberattacks, US officials said, adding that the intelligence community is on high alert for possible election interference.
  • Individual polling places in Georgia, Ohio, South Carolina, and Texas experienced delays, but most were able to fix the issues within an hour or use paper ballots as a backup, according to local media reports.
  • Still, some voters reportedly left voter lines after technical issues caused delays.
  • The problems come as more elections offices than ever before are using electronic devices to sign voters in and maintain voting records. Many of the same glitches also came up during primaries this year.
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Technical glitches and WiFi problems delayed voting at some Election Day polling places across the United States on Tuesday morning, forcing some voters to wait longer than planned before casting their ballots.

Glitches were reported at individual polling places in Georgia, Texas, Ohio, and South Carolina, leading to increased wait times to vote. There's no evidence that the technical issues were caused by cyberattacks from malicious actors or that voting infrastructure was compromised, US officials said, adding that such glitches were to be expected.

"I do have confidence that the vote is secure, the count is secure, and the results will be secure," US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency head Chris Krebs said when asked about the glitches at a press conference Tuesday morning. 

In most cases, the technical glitches appeared to be caused by difficulties with electronic devices that sign voters in to polling places. This year, more elections offices are using those electronic devices than ever before, Politico reported in August.

Voters in Franklin County, Ohio, had to wait in line longer than expected Tuesday morning after the county's board of elections had difficulty with its electronic check-in system. The county moved to paper records as a backup, enabling voter lines to keep moving, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said in a statement.

Atlanta voters also faced minor delays at some polling places when officials had trouble turning on touch-screen voting machines, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The issue was resolved by 10 a.m., Georgia election officials said in a press conference, adding that lines had been short all day. Three more voting locations in the Atlanta suburbs temporarily lost power due to a blown transformer but switched to paper ballots as a backup, according to a Journal-Constitution reporter.

In Columbia, South Carolina, voting was delayed at multiple precincts, which officials attributed to slow WiFi and elections administrators being given the wrong passwords to log into voting machines. The issues were resolved by 9 a.m., but only after multiple people left the voting line, according to The Post and Courier.

Those issues mirror similar technical glitches that delayed voting during primaries and early voting across the US. Even so, the delays in some precincts — like Atlanta's Fulton County — were less severe on Tuesday than they were in previous elections, which officials attributed to the fact that lines are shorter because an unprecedented number of people have already voted early.

Over 99 million Americans voted early in this election, or more than 70% of the total turnout in 2016, according to University of Florida professor Michael McDonald's US Elections Project. The spike in early voting was especially pronounced in some states — in Georgia, 3.9 million people voted early in 2020, or roughly 93% the total number of Georgians who voted in 2016.

US officials have emphasized that it's normal for polling places to experience outages and technical glitches, and Krebs urged voters to be flexible during the press conference Tuesday morning.

"Have patience and if you do experience any issue, ask for help from the poll workers," he said.

Krebs also said on Tuesday that the US had successfully intercepted some efforts by malicious actors to interfere with elections and will remain on high alert.

"We're not out of the woods yet, though," Krebs said. "Today, in some sense, is halftime."

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