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10 Mar, 2020 22:23

Voters face delays, untested new procedures in Michigan, Missouri, Washington, Mississippi, Idaho, and North Dakota

Voters face delays, untested new procedures in Michigan, Missouri, Washington, Mississippi, Idaho, and North Dakota

As primary voters streamed to the polls in six US states, they encountered system failures, missing ballots, disqualifying technicalities, and other unexpected roadblocks. One mayor was even turned away from his polling station.

Former vice president Joe Biden leads the Democratic field going into Tuesday’s contests, in which the candidates will compete for 352 party delegates. While Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders began the nomination season strong, handily taking the first three states, Biden surged to the forefront on Super Tuesday - though some have raised alarms about vote-counting abnormalities in several of the states he won, noting sizable disparities between exit polling and computer vote tallies. As voting began on Tuesday, more anomalies have cropped up.

Also on rt.com Biden and Sanders fight for black voters with competing endorsements from Kamala Harris, Jesse Jackson

Numerous early voters in St. Louis County, Missouri - the state’s most densely-populated region - had no choice but to give up and go to work on Tuesday morning when the electronic check-in system failed to sync with election officials’ computer system to print their ballots. Flustered poll workers made matters worse by not switching to the manual backup system, causing a snarl that ate up at least an hour of voting time at over 50 of the county’s 400 polling places.

While Biden is polling ahead in Missouri, Sanders nearly edged out rival Hillary Clinton in 2016 in the largely-conservative state, and the Democratic Socialist candidate held a well-attended campaign rally in St. Louis on Monday.

Even Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Quinton Lucas found himself shut out of the system in the district where he’d voted for 11 years (“including for myself four times!”), finding his name had seemingly disappeared from the rolls. The Democrat pledged to follow up on the issue, noting that most of his constituents wouldn’t have the luxury of returning to the polls twice, and later found out his first and last name had been mysteriously swapped.

An election representative blamed “elderly” poll workers unfamiliar with modern technology and told KCTV-5 that the mayor had recommended using younger volunteers. “This is a sign that we need to do much better,” Lucas told the AP, acknowledging that “not letting people vote” was “the biggest threat to America’s elections.”

With 125 delegates up for grabs, Michigan is the most hotly-contested of the six states voting on Tuesday, and news that vote counts would be delayed due to an unprecedentedly high number of absentee ballots had voters suspecting the worst. College students - one of Sanders’ strongest constituencies - have reported absentee ballots being sent to the wrong address or not at all, and a lawsuit has been filed that would require the state to notify voters if their mail-in ballot has been rejected due to a “mismatched signature” - one of many technicalities that can quietly disenfranchise unsuspecting citizens.

Since 2018, Michigan has allowed even resident voters the option to cast absentee ballots by mail, and those who voted early for candidates no longer in the race can “spoil” their ballots and re-cast for another candidate. Over 800,000 voters have taken advantage of the absentee option, and tens of thousands have asked for their second ballot after “spoiling” their first, forcing some jurisdictions to set up “absentee voting counting boards” to handle the deluge.

A last-minute poll showed Sanders edging out Biden in a surprise upset, though the “spoil” option is likely to favor the former vice president after several candidates dropped out to endorse him.

Adding to voters’ suspicions, the exit polls being reported are not counting absentee votes.

Washington state voters were warned to check the party declaration box on the outside of their ballots - tens of thousands of early votes had already been disqualified on that technicality before polls opened on Tuesday. The state recently switched its primaries to 100 percent vote-by-mail, rolling out a confusing new set of rules including a requirement ballots be postmarked by 8pm local time.

Some voters in Idaho with no party affiliation reported problems securing Democratic ballots. The state switched to a primary for the first time in 2020 after previously running caucuses.

Voters in North Dakota reported long lines at polls, observing that Grand Forks and Fargo - the state’s two largest cities - only had one polling place apiece, with just 14 voting sites for the entire state.

Voting irregularities in the 2020 primaries have been epidemic. “Major discrepancies” between exit polling and final computer counts are rife, particularly in poor and minority areas, as independent journalist Max Blumenthal observed to RT. “Why are there no election monitors in the US? Why does the OAS only send election monitors to places like Bolivia to falsely allege fraud and trigger military coups?” he asked.

If Texas, or New Hampshire or South Carolina were socialist Latin American countries, the CIA, through the OAS would have already installed a fascistic right-wing government like that of Jeanine Anez today in Bolivia.

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