NEW YORK — Voters nationwide endured long waits in line, malfunctioning voting machines, ill-informed poll workers, and a litany of lesser annoyances Tuesday with scattered reports that some voters gave up trying to cast ballots.
But while there were also charges of illegal electioneering and intimidation by partisans on both sides, the fears by some of chaos at polling places, and even violence, failed to materialize.
Nor did there appear to be any organized effort to disrupt the vote, either by supporters of the candidates or by hackers seeking to break into voting or registration databases.
“There are scattered indications of machine breakdowns that are being addressed. We’re not seeing widespread intimidation,” David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, said in New York.
Becker was among the experts on hand at the New York headquarters of Electionland, a joint journalism project by the nonprofit group ProPublica that was tracking voting problems by monitoring social media, calls to election hot lines, and reports from 400 participating news organizations.
Experts have expressed concern about intimidation at the polls in the wake of repeated insistence by the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, that the election was rigged, and his request for supporters to monitor the polls for fraud. Groups ranging from Republican loyalists to white nationalists and extremist militia had promised to answer his call.
The most consequential breakdown may have occurred in Durham, N.C., a Democratic stronghold in one of the most hotly contested states, where the state Board of Elections agreed to keep eight voting sites open as late as 9 p.m.
A computerized system was supposed to allow Durham County poll workers to quickly verify a voter’s registration and print out a voter authorization slip.
But the system failed in some precincts, and poll workers reverted to the much slower practice of looking up each voter in a physical book, and filling out each slip by hand.
One voting precinct ran out of slips and closed for about an hour and a half, turning voters away, county officials said, and civil rights groups said that at least one other precinct had similar trouble. And in other places, the malfunction caused extremely long lines.
John Powers, associate counsel at the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, described problems nationwide as episodic and scattered.
“There are one-off incidents, but not necessarily organized manipulation. Poll workers will ask for IDs when they’re not supposed to. It’s standard poll-worker misinformation.”
Voters from New Hampshire to Virginia to Missouri were complaining about long lines at their polling places. At Glen Allen Elementary School in Henrico County, Va., waiting voters formed a large semicircle outside the school, though there were no malfunctions there.
“A friend of mine texted around 9 a.m. to say voting was taking one hour and 45 minutes,” said Daryl Watkins, a local resident. “Never before has it been that busy at a polling station.”
Tram Nguyen, the co-executive director of the New Virginia Majority, a voting advocacy group, said, “There was some frustration this morning.” She added: “The main issue has been electronic poll books that were unable to verify a person’s registration. In some instances, voters were bounced back to their old polling places.”
But Nguyen said that most problems had involved long lines in several places. “Nothing to levels that we would find alarming,” she said.
In Texas, where some jurisdictions were reported to be experiencing record turnouts, the Texas Election Protection coalition reported widespread problems involving eligible voters who were wrongly asked to produce an approved photo ID.
A federal appeals court struck down the state’s strict photo-ID requirement this summer.