With voting underway across the U.S., officials are bracing for a day of mischief and mayhem—polling hiccups, malfunctions, voter intimidation and civil unrest—here’s what’s happened so far.
Election officials across the country are warning of an unidentified robocall advising Americans to “stay safe and stay home” on Election Day, which has reportedly reached out to 10 million voters in the past several weeks.
The FBI is investigating those robocalls, according to CNN, which reported on air that calls have been received by voters in New York, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska and North Carolina.
In Pittsburgh, a poll worker was ordered to be removed after fellow elections staff complained that the worker was looking at ballots prior to their scanning and taking video of the polling place, according to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter.
Also in Pittsburgh, one polling place wasn’t able to open on time since an election official’s car was stolen that contained a suitcase with a polling book, keys and other materials, according to the Post-Gazette reporter, but the site was later able to open with authorities arresting five suspects.
In Philadelphia, the district attorney’s office rebuked allegations circulating online about a pro-Democrat campaign poster on the outside of a polling station, calling misinformation about what would be an illegal violation “deliberately deceptive.”
Voters in Michigan and Iowa have been receiving threatening live calls telling them to stay home or face arrest at the polls, according to the office of Michigan’s attorney general, while Flint residents have also been targeted with robocalls advising them to vote on Wednesday because of long lines (those votes would not count).
In Kansas City, Missouri, a World War I memorial being used as a poll location was vandalized with the words “Don’t vote” and “Fight revolution” overnight; this comes after gravestones in a Jewish cemetery in Michigan were spray-painted with the words “TRUMP” and “MAGA” and residents of Roseville, Calif. reported “creepy” blue dots on the front homes with Biden-Harris campaign signs.
A federal court ordered the U.S. Postal Service to “sweep” postal facilities to locate any lingering ballots in battleground states, which have seen delays in the days leading up to the election, to be sent out immediately.
Republicans in Pennsylvania asked a federal court to block Democratic-leaning Montgomery County from contacting voters to correct issues with their mail-in ballots and requested the county throw away any defective ballots or those that have been cured in a Tuesday lawsuit.
In a move that’s expected to delay statewide reporting of election results, North Carolina’s State Board of Election voted to keep four polling places open longer because of early morning delays.
In Harris County, Texas, the state’s most populous county which includes Houston, all but one of 10 drive-thru voting locations were shut by county clerk Chris Hollins, who didn’t want the votes—at the center of a so-far failed legal challenge—to be jeopardized.
Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County has said it will delay counting mail-in ballots arriving after 8 p.m. on Election Day in case the U.S. Supreme Court rules to overturn a three-day extension to count ballots previously green-lit by both the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court (the Supreme Court could agree to hear these arguments, but only after Election Day).
The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on the voting process, resulting in new procedures that may complicate Election Day. According to the Associated Press, around 300 lawsuits have already been filed about the election, including many concerning coronavirus-induced changes like drop boxes, signatures and secrecy envelopes. Local officials and police are also preparing for disruption and violence throughout the day, including the potential emergence of thousands of partisan poll watchers called for by President Trump. The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) has warned of heightened militia activity in key battleground states, including Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. In anticipation of unrest, businesses in many U.S. cities have boarded up their storefronts, while a “non-scalable” fence has been constructed around the White House.