WASHINGTON (AP) — Voters around the country faced long lines, occasional broken machines and some hot tempers Tuesday, but as the polls closed from one coast to the other, there were no signs of the large-scale fraud, intimidation or hacking some had feared.
The scattered problems mostly involved the sort of glitches that arise in every election, including discrepancies in the voter rolls, with no indications of any snags big enough to meaningfully alter the vote count.
“The biggest surprise is how uneventful things have been with this large a turnout,” said Illinois State Board of Elections spokesman Jim Tenuto. “Everyone was expecting more problems than this — and nothing.”
In Texas, activists reported malfunctioning voting systems at more than five polling stations in Denton County, and computer problems at a polling place in a suburban Houston high school forced officials to briefly divert voters to another site more than two miles away.
In key battleground North Carolina, computer trouble in the Democratic stronghold of Durham County forced officials to rely on a paper check-in process, triggering long lines. Several precincts extended their closing times up to an hour.
Similar glitches were reported elsewhere around with the country, along with complaints from some voters that their names were missing from the rolls.
Outside one Florida polling place, a woman campaigning for Donald Trump pepper-sprayed a Hillary Clinton supporter, and outside another, two men got into a scuffle after one of them slapped a phone out of the other’s hand. An argument between a Trump backer and Clinton supporter triggered a fracas in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
There were reports of voters waiting for hours to cast their ballots in such places as Missouri and Utah.
The voting unfolded amid repeated but unsubstantiated claims from Trump that the election would somehow be rigged. His exhortations to followers to watch for fraud at the polls gave rise to fears of vigilantism and harassment.
“Overall, the story that everyone was expecting — mass reports of voter intimidation — hasn’t happened,” said Wendy Weiser, head of the democracy program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU’s Law School. “I’ve definitely seen an uptick in it … but it’s not the overriding story of the election, which certainly ought to be a relief to many.”
Trump again suggested the election might not be on the up-and-up. His campaign said it was seeking an investigation in the battleground state of Nevada over reports that some voters were allowed to get in line after poll closing times.
In an interview on Fox News, Trump would not say whether he would accept the outcome.
“We’re going to see how things play out today and hopefully they will play out well and hopefully we won’t have to worry about it,” he said. Later in the interview, he said, “It’s largely a rigged system.”
In Philadelphia, one of the places Trump had suggested were ripe for fraud, District Attorney Seth Williams said that as of the afternoon, there were no substantiated reports of voter fraud or intimidation, and “no walking apocalypse of zombies voting around town.”
Meanwhile, state election officials were guarding against any attempt by hackers to breach their computer systems.
Forty-eight states accepted “cyber hygiene” help from the Homeland Security Department to patch their networks and root out problems that could allow hackers in, and the remaining two states hired contractors to do the same, officials said.
Cybersecurity experts said because of the nation’s decentralized voting system, with people casting ballots in 9,000 jurisdictions and more than 185,000 precincts, it would be difficult for a hacker to have any sizeable effect on the vote.
Associated Press writers Diana Heidgerd in Dallas; Ron Todt in Philadelphia; Michael Tarm in Chicago; and Desmond O. Butler, Ben Nuckols, Stephen Braun and Tami Abdollah in Washington contributed to this report.