U.S. voters complained about erratic implementation of voter ID laws, while long lines and makeshift polling sites in storm-hit New York and New Jersey added to confusion in a bitterly contested presidential election.
Watchdog groups reported complaints from people turned away from polls because they did not have identification in states like Pennsylvania, where ID was not required. In swing states Virginia and Florida, long lines led to numerous complaints and fears that people would give up without casting a ballot, while large numbers of people in Ohio reported being forced to vote by provisional ballot.
It was unclear what impact the voting irregularities might have on an election that capped a close presidential campaign between Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Throughout the day, voters in Pennsylvania, which saw court battles over controversial voter ID requirements, reported getting conflicting messages over whether an identification was required to vote. A federal judge had ruled the new voter ID law could not be implemented this election because there was not enough time to ensure all registered voters had proper identification.
But poll workers were still requesting voter IDs, and reports surfaced of people being turned away if they could not produce one, witnesses and watchdog groups reported.
The Lawyers' Committee, which helps run an Election Protection hot line that collects reports of problems at the polls, said there were signs outside some voting areas in parts of Pennsylvania falsely telling people they needed an ID.
In Ohio, many people complained they had been forced to vote by provisional ballot after their names did not appear on voter rolls.
Ohio regularly has the highest number of provisional ballots each presidential election, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University's Law School. This year, numbers are likely to exceed 200,000 provision ballots, which will not be counted until at least Nov. 17.
Long lines at polls in many states prompted concerns that some voters would walk away without casting ballots. Lengthy waits to vote were reported in Florida, Virginia and Ohio, all key swing states, as well as New Jersey and New York, states walloped a week ago by superstorm Sandy. In New Jersey, some polling places opened late and some locations lacked ballots.
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