Missing power cords, foreclosures: Here's where voters are running into problems at the polls

Millions of voters across the country finally got their chance Tuesday to cast their ballots at polling centers for the midterm elections. But reports of equipment malfunctions, potential voter intimidation and other obstacles could make it difficult for some voters to exercise their civic right.

pointed to record turnout for the 2018 midterms, where Democrats and Republicans alike have framed the elections as a referendum on competing and increasingly polarized visions for the direction of the country under President Donald Trump. Most political analysts give Democrats stronger odds to retake control of the House of Representatives, while they say Republicans are more likely to hold on to their razor-thin Senate majority.

A Department of Homeland Security official told NBC News’ Pete Williams that while machine operability issues have cropped in a few states, they have not had a substantial impact on voting yet and there has been no evidence of widespread problems with voting machines.

Still, complaints have percolated from polling locations about access, and accuracy, at the polls. Read them below:

Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, agents were scheduled to hold a “crowd control” exercise Tuesday in the heavily Latino Chihuahuita neighborhood in El Paso, NBC reported.

The American Civil Liberties Union said the location and timing of the drill were “suspicious,” though a spokesman for CBP told NBC that the exercise would be conducted on a bridge away from the neighborhood itself.

Shortly following advocates’ complaints, CBP canceled all exercises in the El Paso area. In a follow-up statement, the ACLU said that the “exercises scheduled in a Latin neighborhood raise serious concerns about whether this was intended to intimidate Texans from exercising their right to vote.”

At Annistown Elementary School in Snellville, Georgia, issues with voter check-in service ExpressPoll delayed the opening of a voting precinct and forced the use of paper ballots, according to reporting from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

At another Snellville polling location, this one at Anderson Livsey Elementary, NBC confirmed that long lines had formed because some machines were missing power cords. The location will remain open until 7:25 p.m. local time, officials confirmed to the news outlet. Other locations will close at 7 p.m.

The issue was captured in a video tweeted by Nick Alexander, 50, and posted by his daughter, Brooke.

“The polling director informed us that the batteries had died in the polling machines and someone was going to get power cords,” Nick Alexander told NBC.

Arizona Republic reported that a polling place in Chandler was foreclosed on the night before the midterms, locking poll workers out of the building and cutting off access to the ballots and equipment inside.

Sophia Solis, public information officer for the county’s recorder, said in an email: “The Chandler Polling Location was moved to a different suite just a few feet away and is up and running.”

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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