Virginia Voting: Broken Machines, No Paper Ballots

At the Math and Science Center in Richmond, Virginia, an early breakdown of electronic voting machines led to a three-and-a-half hour wait to vote on Tuesday morning, according to one poll watcher.

"Some people have been here since 6 a.m., and the first voters are just finishing now," said Judith Browne-Dianis, adding that the Richmond location she was watching did not even have backup paper ballots in case of machine malfunction.

"They didn't even have the paper ballots required by state law," she said. "That's not even something we were supposed to have to ask for. I went inside and asked the polling judge, and he said 'we don't have 'em. They [the Board of Elections] were supposed to give 'em to us, and they didn't.'"

Browne-Dianis is also a lawyer with the Advancement Project. That group, along with the NAACP, unsuccessfully brought legal action against Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine as part of an effort to expand polling place hours this evening.

The groups had also hoped to get Virginia to provide more paper ballots for voters in case late evening lines proved prohibitive -- a request that was also rejected by a judge on Monday.

On Tuesday morning, though, Browne-Dianis said her group had succeeded in getting Virginia to announce that curbside voting will be in effect tonight for elderly and disabled voters. She also underlined the fact that anyone who lines up by 7pm will be able to vote, no matter how long the line takes to process.

As for her group's thwarted legal challenge, Browne-Dianis said the judge was sympathetic to the case during Monday's hearing. "He himself described waiting two and half hours, at age 85, to vote absentee. ... He said we need to go to the state legislature and get early voting, and that there is no remedy for voters for this election. And so we are monitoring the polls."

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