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

  • There have been reports of equipment malfunctions, potential voter intimidation and other obstacles at some polling locations on Election Day.
  • A Department of Homeland Security official told NBC News' Pete Williams that while machine operability issues have cropped up 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.
Voters cast their ballots for Early Voting at the Los Angeles County Registrar's Office in Norwalk, California on November 5, 2018, a day ahead the November 6 midterm elections in the United States. 
Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images
Voters cast their ballots for Early Voting at the Los Angeles County Registrar's Office in Norwalk, California on November 5, 2018, a day ahead the November 6 midterm elections in the United States. 

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

Early voting tallies and voter surveys pointed to record turnout for the 2018 midterms. 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 up 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:

Texas — "Crowd control" canceled after accusations of voter intimidation

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."

Georgia — Technical hiccups cause sprawling lines, extended voting hours

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 Annistown precinct will remain open until 9:25 p.m. local time, while the Anderson Livey precinct will close at 7:30 p.m., according to the Georgia secretary of state's office. Other locations will close at 7 p.m.

The issue was captured in a video tweeted by Nick Alexander 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 — Poll workers locked out

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."

Tennessee — Power outages at polling places

A severe storm tore through Knox County in eastern Tennessee, temporarily shutting down power at eight of the area's 79 polling locations.

Four of the affected polling places had to switch to paper ballots, while the others were able to continue on backup battery power, said Knox County Election Commission Director Cliff Rodgers. He added that most of the locations had restored power "well before noon."

"It was a little bumpy," Rodgers said, but "everybody got to vote and the lack of power didn't affect us."

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