Voters in the United States on Tuesday braved worries of getting sick, intimidation from polling stations and long line expectations caused by changes in voting procedures for voting.
The U.S. was well on its way to surpassing the 2016 presidential election, largely due to the nearly 102 million ballots cast prior to election day as part of an early voting push triggered by the pandemic.
There are minor problems with every election, and Tuesday was no different. In Iowa, machines stalled because of disinfectant on voters' hands; A polling tent collapsed in New Hampshire and a woman in Ohio fell into a church that was being used as a polling station.
However, there was no sign of large-scale voter intimidation or clashes in the election, as some feared given the political rancor this year.
"I'd say it's wonderfully uneventful," Michigan attorney general Dana Nessel told reporters. "We had practically no interference."
Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Civil Rights Lawyers' Committee, told USA Today that reports of alleged intimidation were "very isolated and sporadic."
She said, “Fortunately, this has not been a systematic or widespread problem. We were definitely prepared for this to be a bigger problem than it is today. & # 39;
Houston, Texas: Biden supporters face a Trump supporter outside a polling station Tuesday
Iowa: People queuing for an early vote at the Polk County Auditorium in Des Moines
In Ohio, a woman fell into a church that was being used as a polling station
There were long lines and sporadic reports of late polling stations and equipment problems in counties in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas and Georgia. There have also been reports of efforts to prevent people from voting who have surfaced in robocalls in a number of states. The FBI investigated.
An armed man was arrested at a North Carolina polling station after reportedly intimidating voters.
And in New York City, police were forced to end an ugly clash between voters outside a Brooklyn polling station.
Voting was temporarily suspended in Ohio, where the woman fell at a polling station in the Tipp City area. The driver was medically examined before voting.
Images from Houston, Texas show rival voters standing outside a polling station.
In Philadelphia, the footage appeared to show a man claiming to be a Trump election observer trying to enter a polling station.
New York City: A Trump-loving father and son clashed with Democrats at a polling station in Brooklyn on Tuesday in an election campaign that was caught on camera and shared online
Scranton, Pennsylvania: A single voting machine was blocked for just minutes Tuesday morning in a district in Scranton, Joe Biden's hometown. However, misleading posts on Facebook and Twitter claimed that several machines were down for hours. Pictured: A group of volunteers hand out free cookies to voters in Scranton
Effingham, South Carolina: Voters wait in line to cast ballots at the Savannah Grove Baptist Church
Election officials had hoped that if enough people voted early, it would solve some of the problems states faced during the primaries as voters waited hours in line to cast ballots.
That seemed to be Tuesday, although some problems seemed inevitable.
The hand sanitizer on voters' hands caused a voting slip scanner at a polling station in Des Moines, Iowa. The machine was fixed in about an hour, and pollers moved the sanitizer back in line so voters' hands were dry the first time they touched the ballot papers.
Lafayette County, Mississippi: Citizens of Lafayette County, Mississippi, wait in long lines early this morning to cast their 2020 election
Greenville, South Carolina: People wait in line to vote for the early voting on October 31st
In Pennsylvania, a judge in Democrat Joe Biden's Scranton hometown extended voting in two districts of an elementary school to 45 minutes after normal 8 p.m. End of the vote because the machines were down earlier in the day, said Lackawanna County spokesman Joe D'Arienzo.
The FBI also investigated reports of efforts to discourage people from voting using automated calls in several states, including North Carolina, Nebraska, and Michigan. Such reports are common at any election.
In the past few days, around 10 million automated spam calls have been made to voters across the country asking them to "stay safe and stay home," telecommunications experts told the Washington Post.
There were several other issues with voting technology as well. Electronic voting books from voting machine manufacturer KnowInk failed in Ohio's second largest county and a small Texas county, forcing voting delays as officials replaced them with paper voting books.
Although problems were to be expected, voters were still frustrated.
"We had four years to prepare," said Jenny Harris, who encountered problems with touchscreen voting machines at her Atlanta polling station. "And the fact that we still had problems the day we vote was blown away."
Manchester, New Hampshire: Trump supporters hold signs outside a polling station as a voter walks out of the house on Memorial High School election day
Houston, Texas: Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and U.S. President Donald Trump gather along West Gray Street
Those who voted on election day included some who wanted to vote by mail but waited too long to request a ballot or didn't get their ballot on time.
Kaal Ferguson, 26, was planning to vote by mail but was concerned that he had not left enough time to send his ballot back. Therefore, he personally voted in Atlanta, despite fears of exposure to COVID-19 from fellow voters.
"Obviously everyone has their right to vote," he said. "But it's scary to know that there isn't just one place they can vote if they had it, so you could be easily exposed."
Others were likely convinced by the president's rhetoric attacking the postal vote, or simply preferred to vote in person after reports of mail delivery delays surfaced in the summer after the new U.S. Postal Service Chairman, Postmaster General Louis, issued a DeJoy, a major GOP donor, had made a number of policy changes.
& # 39; I don't want to see a postman. I like to stand here, see my own people, wait in line and do my civilian service, ”said James & # 39; Sekou & # 39; Jenkins, a 68-year-old retired carpenter and mechanic who waited about 15 minutes before the West Philadelphia and West Philadelphia elections opened, voted for Biden about an hour later.
Washington DC: Black Lives Matter supporters, left, clash with Trump supporters, face down
Portland, Maine: People wait in line to vote on November 3rd. After a record-breaking turnout, Americans go to the polls on the final day to cast their vote for incumbent U.S. President Donald Trump or Democratic candidate Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election
Crawfordville, Florida: Voters line up at dawn when polls begin on November 3rd
Huntingdon, Pennsylvania: Long queues await voters in Pennsylvania at the Juanita College polling station early in the morning
On Tuesday afternoon, a federal judge in Washington, DC ordered US Postal Service inspectors to search 27 mail processing facilities for lingering postal ballot papers and send those votes immediately.
The order, which includes centers in central Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlanta, southern Florida and parts of Wisconsin, followed concerns that the agency might not deliver ballots on time. Postal data has shown that service is lagging far behind in some battlefield areas.
"The slowdown and compromise of the US postal service has been an issue," said Rebecca Kraft, a 41-year-old Milwaukee resident, who voted in person. "So I said," Okay, if I feel healthy I'll do it in the elections just to be sure. "
In the months leading up to election day, election officials grappled with a pandemic that infected more than 9 million Americans and killed more than 230,000 people, forcing them to make systemic changes largely spontaneously and with limited federal funds.
The armed man pictured was arrested by police for trespassing after he was banned when people reported him to a polling station for intimidating voters
"A lot of people were afraid to come out and vote today, and for me I didn't want fear to keep me from voting on election day," said Sadiyyah Porter-Lowdry, 39, who cast her vote in a church in Charlotte. North Carolina.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly encouraged his supporters to go to polling stations to watch the elections in the run-up to Tuesday's elections and has raised concerns that violence could break out in some locations.
In Spalding County, Georgia, machine problems resulted in a two-hour extension of the vote. At four polling stations in Baltimore the waiting time lasted more than an hour.
But there was no sign of large-scale election intimidation or clashes on Tuesday, as some feared, given the intensity on either side of the highly competitive race between Republican President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden.
The Department of Homeland Security's cybersecurity agency said earlier in the day that it had seen no obvious signs of malicious cyber activity, but also noted that it was too early to declare victory.
Graham, Alamance County, North Carolina: A supporter of US President Donald Trump waves a flag as he challenges protesters who march for the right to vote
Officials have already warned that due to the avalanche of postal votes, ballot counting could take days that would take longer to process and lead to another round of court battles.
Misinformation about election procedures and the threat of foreign interference also clouded preparations for election day. States have drawn up plans to protect against cyberattacks, counteracted misinformation and strengthened an electoral infrastructure that has been tested against pandemics through massive early voting and precautionary measures.
The Department of Homeland Security's cybersecurity agency said Tuesday that it has at least seen no obvious signs of malicious cyber activity. However, officials from the U.S. agency for cybersecurity and infrastructure security also said it was too early to declare victory.
"It's been quiet and we trust it, but we're not out of the woods yet," said a senior CISA official, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity about ongoing nationwide election observation efforts prior to an official assessment.
As the novel coronavirus took hold in the US, officials repeatedly urged voters to cast their ballots early or by mail in hopes that the pre-selection would eliminate some of the problems that arose during the primaries, such as long lines and hours of waiting, would alleviate.
More than 102 million voters have followed this advice, a record number that four years ago made up 73 percent of the total vote in the presidential election.