Reports of broken voting machines, confusion surrounding mail-in ballots among Election Day issues

On Election Day, sometimes, things don’t always go so smoothly.

So far on Tuesday, at some Massachusetts polls, there have been reports of broken machines, election volunteers being harassed, confusion surrounding mail-in ballots and, reports of some City Clerks requiring an ID to vote, according to the Lawyers for Civil Rights.

In New England, the group has received approximately 75 inquiries since polling sites opened, with most inquiries coming from Massachusetts.

The local watchdog group did not specify which polls were the subject of these complaints. But, it is spearheading “Election Protection” efforts in Massachusetts and three other states to ensure that each voter has the proper resources to cast a ballot.

“All inquiries are being addressed in real-time by pro bono attorneys and volunteers,” the group said in a statement early Tuesday.

For example, the group said some of its “Election Protection volunteers have been improperly escorted away from polling locations, often by law enforcement officials. For example, in New Bedford, police asked at least one Election Protection volunteer to leave a polling site.”

In response to the Lawyers for Civil Rights’ areas of concern, Secretary of State William Galvin issued the following statement:

“It is common for our Elections Division to field complaints on Election Day, from voters, candidates, and volunteers,” Galvin said. “When this happens, the Elections Division reaches out to the local election officials for information and to offer assistance. When necessary, the Elections Division directs the local election official to take specific actions, which may include contacting the poll workers at the polling place to make corrections.”

The group said it has received reports of broken machines “across multiple polling sites” including in Florian Hall in Boston and in New Bedford.

“Voters have expressed concern about how ballots are being handled with broken machines and/or equipment,” the group said.

In response, Galvin said: “When voting equipment is experiencing technical issues, ballots are inserted into the side compartment of the ballot box to be hand-counted at the end of the night, while efforts are made to resolve the issue. As always, all voters cast a paper ballot that can be hand-counted by election workers if necessary.”

The Lawyers for Civil Rights also said across multiple jurisdictions, including Norfolk County, handling of vote-by-mail ballots “continues to create significant confusion on the ground.”

“People who requested but did not vote by mail-in ballots are improperly being blocked from voting in person in certain polling sites. We are working closely with State officials to ensure that all of these individuals -- who are entitled to vote in person using a regular ballot -- can exercise their right to vote today,” the group said.

The Lawyers for Civil Rights said it received reports of city clerks posting signs requiring an ID to vote. “In these jurisdictions, including New Braintree, poll workers are asking for IDs,” the group said, adding that concern was also raised at a polling site at 105 Jersey St. in Boston “where at least one law enforcement is asking for IDs.”

In response, Galvin’s office said: “We are aware of the report of voters being asked for identification in New Braintree. The clerk has corrected signage to make it clear that voters may be asked for identification.”

The group is also keeping an eye on elections in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine. Nationally, the Election Protection Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) has received approximately 1,000 inquiries, the group said.

“We are ensuring that all eligible voters have the information and resources necessary to cast their ballot,” the group said.

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