David Kurtz

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.

Articles by David

So many phone calls about voting questions/problems in Columbus, Ohio, that the county's phone system crashed:

Franklin County's phone system was returned to service about 90 minutes after it collapsed today under a crush of calls from voters and poll workers.

The volume of calls “overwhelmed the system,” Franklin County Elections Director Matthew Damschroder said.

Phones returned to normal about 9:30 a.m. The system also went down during the May 2 primary, delaying final returns until 2 a.m.

Damschroder said the system could not handle the quantity of calls from voters needing help to figure out where to vote and from poll workers needing help figuring out how to set up new electronic machines.

Polls opened at 6:30 today with relatively short lines but glitches at several polling places.

From Chicagoland, TPM Reader MS reports:

I live in Arlington Heights, IL, outside of Chicago. I'm in Mark Kirk's House District. This morning none of the electronic voting machines were working. Therefore the wait to vote was around 30 minutes, since they were using paper ballots.

As an aside, on the table next to the election judges was a box of donuts from the Republican Party of Wheeling Township, thanking the election judges for their service. Democray (and bribery) in action!

If we're down to donuts, then Chicago ain't what it used to be.

When I woke up this morning, the first thing I did was to check whether there was any kind of last-minute election-altering surprise.

No Osama.

No bombing of Iran.

No military strike against North Korea.

The best Rove came up with was Saddam's death sentence, and with Iraq weighing Republicans down like concrete shoes the additional focus that story brought to Iraq was a mixed blessing.

For my part, I thought there was a better than even chance of U.S. bombing raids against Iran before the election. So--I'll say it---I was wrong.

But there is a long list of TPM readers who were absolutely, positively, without a doubt convinced that Rove had at least one more ace up his sleeve that would throw the election into chaos and to the GOP. I'm not talking about tactical tricks like the robocalls, but big, election-shifting tricks that consume all the air in the room. Didn't happen.

To be sure, the wizard is still behind the curtain furiously working the levers of power. Today we'll find out whether voters finally decide to pull back the curtain.

And from Sullivan County, Tennessee, where TPM Reader SJ tried to vote:

Went to my precinct to vote and all 3 machines were not working. This precinct has a lot of lower-income families and public housing. They finally got one of the machines going, but the lines were out the door - I waited close to an hour and had to get to work. I wasn't the only one - most of those leaving were young(er) working people more likely to vote Democratic. I'll be coming back later to vote, but how many of those that left will be able to do that? You would think the machines would have at least been tested and working before the actual election day.

We're not going to be able to post every anecdote like this that we receive today. It would be beside the point. We'll be looking for trends and patterns. But regardless of whether you subscribe to deep, dark conspiracy theories of GOP election trickery, voting should be easy, accurate, and fair. It's not. The system is broken.

From TPM Reader EL in Florida:

Just in case you're keeping tabs, I wanted to tell you that my wife tried to vote in our precinct in Tampa and was not on the list. After several tries to find out why, she was told that the voter database was "cleaned" and there must have been a mistake. I'm trying to find out who "cleaned" it.

We are keeping tabs.

Looks like Ohio is going to be interesting today. From TPM Reader JH:

Similar problems in Hamilton County to those reported in Summit County. Even though my partner changed his registration to our new address and even though he voted in the same precinct last election with no problem, because his driver's license had our old address, the pollworkers forced him to vote a provisional ballot. This precinct is smack dab in the middle of the congressional district where . . . Jean Schmidt should lose to Victoria Wulsin, but turnout will matter. The lines were long, with people standing in the rain, and the pollworkers seemed ill equipped to handle the process. Could be a long day in Ohio again.

And so it goes.

It was widely reported yesterday that Missouri's Democratic secretary of state had trouble voting absentee in the St. Louis area:

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan raised concerns about potential voter confusion in Tuesday's elections, citing her own experience casting an absentee ballot as an indication that some poll workers may wrongly be asking voters for a photo identification.

Carnahan told The Associated Press on Monday that a worker at the St. Louis Election Board asked her three times to show a photo identification when she voted absentee last Friday - despite a Missouri Supreme Court ruling striking down the photo requirement.

We'll be keeping an eye today on whether this remains a problem in Missouri precincts, where the Talent-McCaskill race is too close to call.

Real-time reporting of election-related problems can be found here. Scroll down and click on the U.S. map. You will be able to view by state and county. Ohio jumps out already this morning with numerous reports of problems in the largest counties. The site seems to be getting a lot of traffic and is slow to load.

Late Update: The site has crashed.

TPM Reader AM checks in from Ohio:

Reporting from Summit County, where we use optical scan machines: my husband and I were in line at 6:30 a.m. when the polls opened so we were the 14th & 15th people in our precinct (8-C) to vote. Unfortunately, the optical scanner wouldn't accept any ballots. I hung around until 7:30 a.m. to see if they got it working and when I left it was still down. Of course, it took all 4 of the octogenarians staffing the precinct table to try to "fix" the problem so the line was backed up out the door & into the parking lot, where voters were treated to a light morning drizzle.

Sure hope my vote gets counted. And I hope not too many people had to bail out of the line in order to make it to their jobs on time.