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Poll problems crop up across U.S.

  • Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, presents a photo id as he gets his ballot to vote, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, at Ronald Reagan Lodge in West Chester, Ohio.   After a grinding presidential campaign, Americans head into polling places across the country. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

    Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, presents a photo id as he gets his ballot to vote, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, at Ronald Reagan Lodge in West Chester, Ohio. After a grinding presidential campaign, Americans head into polling places across the country. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

  • Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, presents a photo id as he gets his ballot to vote, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, at Ronald Reagan Lodge in West Chester, Ohio.   After a grinding presidential campaign, Americans head into polling places across the country. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

    Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, presents a photo id as he gets his ballot to vote, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, at Ronald Reagan Lodge in West Chester, Ohio. After a grinding presidential campaign, Americans head into polling places across the country. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

  • Under the lights of a generator, voters wait in line outside of a tent serving as a polling site in the Midland Beach section of Staten Island, New York, on Election Day Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. The original polling site, a school, was damaged by Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

    Under the lights of a generator, voters wait in line outside of a tent serving as a polling site in the Midland Beach section of Staten Island, New York, on Election Day Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. The original polling site, a school, was damaged by Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

  • Under the lights of a generator, voters wait in line outside of a tent serving as a polling site in the Midland Beach section of Staten Island, New York, on Election Day Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. The original polling site, a school, was damaged by Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

    Under the lights of a generator, voters wait in line outside of a tent serving as a polling site in the Midland Beach section of Staten Island, New York, on Election Day Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. The original polling site, a school, was damaged by Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

  • Under the lights of a generator, voters wait in line outside of a tent serving as a polling site in the Midland Beach section of Staten Island, New York, on Election Day Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. The original polling site, a school, was damaged by Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

    Under the lights of a generator, voters wait in line outside of a tent serving as a polling site in the Midland Beach section of Staten Island, New York, on Election Day Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. The original polling site, a school, was damaged by Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

  • Under the lights of a generator, voters wait in line outside of a tent serving as a polling site in the Midland Beach section of Staten Island, New York, on Election Day Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. The original polling site, a school, was damaged by Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

    Under the lights of a generator, voters wait in line outside of a tent serving as a polling site in the Midland Beach section of Staten Island, New York, on Election Day Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. The original polling site, a school, was damaged by Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

  • Don Dunkelburger, of Seaside Heights, N.J., takes a smoke break outside a shelter and polling station at Toms River East High School Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. Dunkelburger, who lost his home and was staying in the shelter, said he was not clear on where he was supposed to vote Tuesday. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    Don Dunkelburger, of Seaside Heights, N.J., takes a smoke break outside a shelter and polling station at Toms River East High School Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. Dunkelburger, who lost his home and was staying in the shelter, said he was not clear on where he was supposed to vote Tuesday. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

  • Don Dunkelburger, of Seaside Heights, N.J., takes a smoke break outside a shelter and polling station at Toms River East High School Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. Dunkelburger, who lost his home and was staying in the shelter, said he was not clear on where he was supposed to vote Tuesday. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    Don Dunkelburger, of Seaside Heights, N.J., takes a smoke break outside a shelter and polling station at Toms River East High School Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. Dunkelburger, who lost his home and was staying in the shelter, said he was not clear on where he was supposed to vote Tuesday. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

  • Early morning voting is underway at Bishop Molloy Recreational Center on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, in Point Lookout , N.Y., one of several voting locations that were created as a result of Superstorm Sandy.  (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

    Early morning voting is underway at Bishop Molloy Recreational Center on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, in Point Lookout , N.Y., one of several voting locations that were created as a result of Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

  • Early morning voting is underway at Bishop Molloy Recreational Center on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, in Point Lookout , N.Y., one of several voting locations that were created as a result of Superstorm Sandy.  (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

    Early morning voting is underway at Bishop Molloy Recreational Center on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, in Point Lookout , N.Y., one of several voting locations that were created as a result of Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

  • Unidentified voters confer as they complete their ballots at Public School 370, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 in the Coney Island section of New York. The school is hosting seven polling stations that were closed due to Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

    Unidentified voters confer as they complete their ballots at Public School 370, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 in the Coney Island section of New York. The school is hosting seven polling stations that were closed due to Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

  • Unidentified voters confer as they complete their ballots at Public School 370, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 in the Coney Island section of New York. The school is hosting seven polling stations that were closed due to Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

    Unidentified voters confer as they complete their ballots at Public School 370, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 in the Coney Island section of New York. The school is hosting seven polling stations that were closed due to Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

  • A shopper, center, picks through water-damaged shoes in Sneaker Town, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 in the Coney Island section of New York. The store is clearing out its inventory damaged by Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

    A shopper, center, picks through water-damaged shoes in Sneaker Town, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 in the Coney Island section of New York. The store is clearing out its inventory damaged by Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

  • Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, presents a photo id as he gets his ballot to vote, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, at Ronald Reagan Lodge in West Chester, Ohio.   After a grinding presidential campaign, Americans head into polling places across the country. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
  • Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, presents a photo id as he gets his ballot to vote, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, at Ronald Reagan Lodge in West Chester, Ohio.   After a grinding presidential campaign, Americans head into polling places across the country. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
  • Under the lights of a generator, voters wait in line outside of a tent serving as a polling site in the Midland Beach section of Staten Island, New York, on Election Day Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. The original polling site, a school, was damaged by Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
  • Under the lights of a generator, voters wait in line outside of a tent serving as a polling site in the Midland Beach section of Staten Island, New York, on Election Day Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. The original polling site, a school, was damaged by Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
  • Under the lights of a generator, voters wait in line outside of a tent serving as a polling site in the Midland Beach section of Staten Island, New York, on Election Day Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. The original polling site, a school, was damaged by Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
  • Under the lights of a generator, voters wait in line outside of a tent serving as a polling site in the Midland Beach section of Staten Island, New York, on Election Day Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. The original polling site, a school, was damaged by Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
  • Don Dunkelburger, of Seaside Heights, N.J., takes a smoke break outside a shelter and polling station at Toms River East High School Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. Dunkelburger, who lost his home and was staying in the shelter, said he was not clear on where he was supposed to vote Tuesday. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
  • Don Dunkelburger, of Seaside Heights, N.J., takes a smoke break outside a shelter and polling station at Toms River East High School Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. Dunkelburger, who lost his home and was staying in the shelter, said he was not clear on where he was supposed to vote Tuesday. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
  • Early morning voting is underway at Bishop Molloy Recreational Center on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, in Point Lookout , N.Y., one of several voting locations that were created as a result of Superstorm Sandy.  (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)
  • Early morning voting is underway at Bishop Molloy Recreational Center on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, in Point Lookout , N.Y., one of several voting locations that were created as a result of Superstorm Sandy.  (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)
  • Unidentified voters confer as they complete their ballots at Public School 370, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 in the Coney Island section of New York. The school is hosting seven polling stations that were closed due to Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
  • Unidentified voters confer as they complete their ballots at Public School 370, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 in the Coney Island section of New York. The school is hosting seven polling stations that were closed due to Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
  • A shopper, center, picks through water-damaged shoes in Sneaker Town, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 in the Coney Island section of New York. The store is clearing out its inventory damaged by Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Sporadic problems were reported yesterday at polling places around the country, including a confrontation in Pennsylvania involving Republican inspectors over access to some polls and a voting machine that lit up for Republican Mitt Romney even when a voter pressed the button for President Obama.

One Florida elections office mistakenly told voters in robocalls the election was today.

Although the majority of complaints were simply extremely long lines, the Election Protection coalition of civil rights and voting access groups said they had gotten some more serious calls among more than 40,000 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 blocked from polling places in the heavily Democratic city, prompting the GOP to obtain 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.

Also in central Pennsylvania, officials said the voting machine that switched a person’s vote from Obama to Romney has been recalibrated and is back in service.

Pennsylvania Department of State spokesman Ron Ruman said the Perry County voter notified elections officials of the problem after trying to cast his ballot yesterday. Video of what Ruman called a “momentary glitch” was widely viewed on YouTube.

Pennsylvania was also the scene of what a state Common Cause official called “widespread” confusion over voter ID requirements. The state this year enacted a new photo ID requirement but it was put on hold for yesterday’s election by a judge amid concern many voters would not be able to comply on time.

Barry Kauffman, executive director of Common Cause in Pennsylvania, said election workers in many places were demanding IDs even though they are not required. It was unclear, however, just how many voters may have been turned away or discouraged.

“There seems to be a lot of confusion about voter ID. Apparently the poll workers were not adequately trained,” he said.

Also in Philadelphia, a judge ordered a mural of President Obama covered up after a Republican election worker snapped a picture of it at a school polling place, according to a statement from the Republican Party.

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. A judge, however, flatly dismissed a lawsuit seeking to stop use of the software.

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 Tuesday morning when the problem was discovered and a second message went out telling voters to disregard the previous call.

Elsewhere, the Election Protection coalition reported problems with ballot scanners in the Ohio cities of Cleveland, Dayton and Toledo; late-opening polling places in minority neighborhoods in Galveston, Texas; and some precincts in the Tampa, Fla., area where voters are being redirected to another polling place where they must cast a provisional ballot.

Meanwhile, voters in several storm-ravaged areas in New York and New Jersey expressed relief and even elation at being able to vote at all, considering the devastation from Superstorm Sandy. Lines were long in Point Pleasant, N.J., where residents from the Jersey Shore communities of Point Pleasant Beach and Mantoloking had to cast their ballots due to damage in their hometowns. Many people still have no power eight days after Sandy pummeled the shore.

“Nothing is more important than voting. What is the connection between voting and this?” said Alex Shamis, a resident of hard-hit Staten Island, gesturing to his mud-filled home.

Any voting problems are being closely monitored after months of legal and political battles over more voter ID restrictions and other laws, mostly fruitless hunts for supposedly ineligible people on voting rolls in many states and sustained claims that black and Hispanic voters are being targeted for intimidation and suppression.

Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, said even in states where the restrictive laws have been blocked or delayed, many people still think they are in effect.

“The laws were struck down but the confusion remains,” Waldman said.

Many of these issues could resurface in the courts after Tuesday, particularly if the race between Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, is too close to call or heads for a recount in states such as Ohio or Florida.

The Justice Department will have at least 780 observers at key polling places in 23 states to ensure compliance with the 1965 Voting Rights Act and look into any allegations of voter fraud.

Provisional ballots were the latest legal skirmish in the critical battleground state of Ohio, where Secretary of State Jon Husted’s decision on how they can be cast was challenged in federal court. Advocates and lawyers for labor unions contend Husted’s order would lead to some provisional ballots being rejected improperly because the burden of recording the form of ID used on a provisional ballot is being placed on voters, not poll workers as in the past.

A provisional vote allows a person to have his or her say, but the ballot is subject to review and verification of eligibility. A court hearing was set for Wednesday on issue. Provisional ballots cannot be counted in Ohio before Nov. 17.

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Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers A.J. Connelly in New York, Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus, Ohio, and Patrick Walters in Philadelphia.

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Follow Curt Anderson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Miamicurt

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