This week saw a variety of such small-scale interruptions. In Atlanta, the culprit was leaky plumbing. Inside the arena where the Atlanta Hawks play basketball — converted into a polling place — the early-morning discovery that a burst pipe was leaking water into a room with absentee ballots delayed the count by a couple of hours. An arena staff member quickly fixed the leak, and none of the ballots were damaged, officials said.
Several polling places in Louisiana were running on generators after lingering power failures caused by Hurricane Zeta, which led to a feud between local and state officials over who was responsible for sending the generators to election sites. Officials ultimately moved two polling locations to a nearby middle school, and there were no serious delays.
In Hidalgo County in South Texas, just across the border from Mexico, it was a technical glitch. New laptops that had been distributed to polling sites ahead of Election Day to help accommodate the region’s record-breaking turnout did not work, causing delays of up to 90 minutes on Tuesday morning.
“They were not allowing the software program to open up to check in voters,” Yvonne Ramon, the county elections administrator, said. “And because they were scattered throughout the county, my field service technicians took off to the nearest locations. We’re a large county, so going from location to location is not an easy thing.”
Ms. Ramon noted that hiccups with new technology were not unusual. But the county kept polling places open an additional hour on Tuesday night to make up for the earlier delays, and everyone who had come out to cast a ballot was ultimately able to do so, she said.
In the battleground state of Wisconsin, the last few hundred votes went unreported for several hours because the Richland County clerk could not reach the clerk in the town of Willow, who had said she felt sick and then could not be reached, according to The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Willow’s 274 votes were eventually reported. In Green Bay, the count of absentee votes was briefly delayed while an election official ran over to City Hall to get more ink for the vote-counting machines.
Poll workers face unexpected glitches every year, but warnings about distorted tallies or delayed counts made voters and observers more on edge than usual about any oddities. None of the complications this week led to serious problems, elections officials said. Some, like the hand sanitizer incident, were the result of an election severely altered by coronavirus precautions.