PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Voters heading to the polls encountered some problems around the area Tuesday morning.
According to Allegheny County officials, one polling location which experienced a problem was in Squirrel Hill at the Carnegie Library.
The judge of elections suffered a medical emergency Monday night and was still hospitalized when the polls opened at 7 a.m.
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According to officials, the location opened but did not have the equipment needed to open the voting machines. Emergency ballots were being used, which will be counted when the polls close tonight.
The machines were up and running by 10:15 a.m.
“Today, there was a line and I’ve never had a line at 11 o’clock in the morning, even the presidential election, so this a wonderful thing people are voting,” Barbara Grossman said.
Other Reported Issues:
Allegheny County said they received several reports of “vote switching,” which is when a voter selects one candidate or chooses the straight party option and the voting machine then changes their selection.
“Vote switching” problems were reported in West Deer, Plum, Moon and South Fayette. The county says the issue is either human error or a calibration in the machine, and each machine was checked and re-calibrated if needed. There were similar issues reported in Armstrong and Westmoreland counties as well.
Watch John Shumway’s report —
The weather also played a role in today’s polling problems. The wind knocked out power in 14 districts this afternoon. That left some voters to cast their ballot in the dark. The key was that the voting machines have a battery backup inside them, so when winds gusting up to 37 miles per hour at times this afternoon knocked out the power, it still did not deter voters.
High winds damaged several transformers during the afternoon, knocking out power to polls in Baldwin, Whitehall, Pleasant Hills and North Versailles. Gusts also blew out power to Plum High School.
“The wind took out a transformer up here on the hill and it took out everything. And then the school generator didn’t come on, so there’s a problem with the generator, the emergency backup generator,” Plum Borough mayor Harry Schlegel said.
Voting machines kept working on battery power, but not very quickly.
“They were voting, but they were voting very slowly,” Schlegel said. “They waited. Nobody left.”
Watch Kristin Emery’s report —
Power was restored by dinnertime but long lines lingered as voters turned out in huge numbers. Plum Borough resident Lisa Beighley waited in the line to vote for about an hour and 15 minutes.
“I anticipated it but didn’t quite expect it that long,” she said.
Plum Borough resident John Anderson was surprised lines stretched so long. He waited for about an hour and 20 minutes.
“I don’t think I waited that long for the presidential election,” he said.
In all, power outages affected around 2,000 customers Tuesday afternoon. Some polling places relied on generators and those battery backups to keep lines moving until service was restored.
The line at Plum High School was still one hour long just before polls closed at 8 p.m. with many officials saying this was the largest turnout they’d ever seen for a mid-term election.
Allegheny County also had its usual array of early issues:
Bellevue Ward 1, District 2 – The judge of elections overslept and the polling location opened late.
Collier District 1 – Only one board member showed up, which prompted extras to be sent to the location.
Pittsburgh Ward 4, Districts 10 and 11 – Voting started late due to unspecified issues with opening the machines.
McCandless Ward 1, District 1 – The polling location opened at 7:15 a.m. Paper ballots were used until that time.
Anyone experiencing problems at a polling location in Allegheny County can report it by calling (412)-350-4500.
Voters can also report problems by calling the Pennsylvania Department of State’s voter hotline at 1-877-868-3772.
Meanwhile, the ACLU of Pennsylvania says they have received a number of complaints regarding absentee ballots.
Some claim they received their ballot after the submission deadline.
As a result, the ACLU wants to hear from has set up a hotline for voters. That number is 1-866-687-8683.