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FBI to check voter claims

Published November 8, 2006


Claims of Election Day dirty tricks led to FBI investigations in at least two states, with some voters claiming they received intimidating phone calls, misleading sample ballots and even an armed man outside a polling place.

In Virginia, the FBI was looking at allegations of an orchestrated series of phone calls in the hard-fought U.S. Senate race between Republican George Allen and Democrat Jim Webb. Some voters said they got calls telling them to stay home on Election Day, or face criminal charges.

In Indiana, the FBI was investigating allegations that a Democratic volunteer at a polling site in the college town of Bloomington was found with absentee ballots after counting had begun.

Other states reported similar problems.

In Arizona, three men, one of them armed, allegedly stopped Hispanic voters and questioned them outside a Tucson polling place, according to the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

More than 80 percent of the nation's voters were expected to cast electronic ballots Tuesday, which was the deadline for major reforms mandated by the federal Help America Vote Act, passed by Congress to prevent a rerun of the 2000 election debacle.

In some states, the effort to improve the integrity of the election system got off to a shaky start. Long lines formed, prompting appeals to judges to keep the polls open longer.

Kevin Caffrey, a 43-year-old school teacher from Denver and a registered Republican, was furious after he was forced to stand in line for more than an hour.

"Every individual who put me in line, I'm voting against them. I've been waiting in line like an animal. This is a nightmare," he said.

A long ballot and new machines caused the disruptions, according to Colorado secretary of state spokeswoman Lisa Doran.

Computer glitches and poll workers' unfamiliarity with the new equipment were also blamed for long lines in Tennessee, South Carolina and Illinois.

In South Carolina, Gov. Mark Sanford was turned away because he didn't have a voter registration card. He went back with the correct identification.

Long lines raised frustration levels, and not just in Colorado.

In Boston, police helped deliver ballots Tuesday night after precincts ran out during rush-hour voting. Heavy traffic had delayed election vehicles.

In Ohio, U.S. District Court Judge Dan A. Polster ordered polls to stay open until 9 p.m., 90 minutes after closing time, after the Ohio Democratic Party sued Cuyahoga County because of crowded precincts.

[Last modified November 8, 2006, 03:09:22]

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