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November 6, 2012

Poll problems cropping up in spots around U.S.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sporadic problems were reported today at polling places around the country, including a confrontation in Pennsylvania involving Republican inspectors over access to some polls and a last-minute court fight in Ohio over election software. One Florida elections office mistakenly told voters in robocalls the election was on Wednesday.

Although the majority of complaints were simply long lines, the Election Protection coalition of civil rights and voting access groups said they had gotten some more serious calls among more than 35,000 received on a toll-free voter protection hotline.

"''It's already started and it's busy," said Barbara Arnwine, president of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

In Philadelphia, the Republican Party said 75 legally credentialed voting inspectors were removed from polling places in the heavily Democratic city, prompting the GOP to seek a court order providing them access. Local prosecutors were also looking into the reports. Democratic Party officials did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

The battleground state of Ohio was the scene of yet another court battle, this one involving a lawsuit claiming voting software installed by the state could allow manipulation of ballots by non-election board officials. The lawsuit wants a judge to order Ohio not to use the software — something state elections officials said would "unnecessarily thwart the smooth operation of the election."

The Florida robocall glitch occurred in Pinellas County, location of St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay. Officials said the calls intended for Monday were wrongly recycled Tuesday, telling possibly thousands of voters they had until "7 p.m. tomorrow" to vote, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Nancy Whitlock, spokeswoman for the county's supervisor of elections, said officials immediately stopped the calls this morning when the problem was discovered and a second message went out telling voters to disregard the previous call.

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