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Unforeseen threats to the 2020 election: hand sanitizer and bad plumbing

This week has seen a variety of small-scale disruptions. In Atlanta, the culprit was leaking plumbing. In the arena where the Atlanta Hawks play basketball – converted into a polling station – the early morning discovery that a burst pipe was leaking water in a room with missing ballots delayed the count by a few hours. An arena staff member quickly fixed the leak and none of the ballots were damaged, officials said.

Several polling stations in Louisiana were running on generators after persistent power outages caused by Hurricane Zeta, which led to a feud between local and state officials over who was responsible for sending the generators to them. electoral sites. Officials eventually moved two polling stations to a nearby college, and there were no serious delays.

In Hidalgo County, South Texas, just across the border with Mexico, it was a technical issue. New laptops that had been distributed to polling stations ahead of polling day to help cope with the region’s record turnout failed to work, causing delays of up to 90 minutes on Tuesday morning.

“They did not allow the software to open to register voters”, Yvonne Ramon, the county election administrator, said. “And since they were scattered across the county, my field service technicians took off to the nearest sites. We are a large county, so getting from one place to another is not an easy thing. “

Ms Ramon noted that the hiccups with the new technology were not unusual. But the county kept polling stations open an extra hour Tuesday night to make up for earlier delays, and everyone who had come to vote was finally able to do so, she said.

In the battlefield state of Wisconsin, the last hundreds of votes were not reported for several hours because the Richland County Clerk could not reach the Willow Town Clerk, who had said that she felt sick and couldn’t be reached, according to The Milwaukee. Journal-Sentinel. Willow’s 274 votes were ultimately reported. In Green Bay, the absentee vote count was briefly delayed while an election official ran to town hall to get more ink for the vote-counting machines.

Investigators face unexpected problems every year, but warnings of skewed counts or delayed counts have made voters and observers more concerned than usual about any oddity. None of the complications this week resulted in serious problems, election officials said. Some, like the hand sanitizer incident, were the result of an election severely altered by coronavirus precautions.