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Election Day: Homeland Security watching for any problems with voting machines

ATLANTA (AP) – The Latest on voting problems in the midterm election (all times local):

3:10 p.m.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen says cybersecurity officials are hoping for the best in the midterm election but preparing to react to the worst.

Nielsen says that the election will be the most secure in the modern era. She was speaking Tuesday at a command center where state and local officials are working with federal agents to share information on possible interference from foreign or domestic agents.

States run elections, but Homeland Security is the federal department tasked with both cybersecurity and protecting the country’s election infrastructure.

Voters were managing long lines and malfunctioning machines, but those problems weren’t because of any foreign interference.

Nielsen says no voting machines have been compromised, but there has been a misinformation effort by foreign groups eager to sow discord.

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2:50 p.m.

A judge has ordered 12 polling places in a northwestern Indiana county to stay open late after voting didn’t start as scheduled.

The (Northwest Indiana) Times reports Tuesday that a Porter County judge ordered the polling sites stay open up to 2 1/2 hours later than the scheduled 6 p.m. closing time.

Porter County Clerk Karen Martin says some sites opened as much as 90 minutes late.

The Republican clerk blamed that on some expected poll workers quitting, some workers not picking up election supplies and sites not being open when poll workers arrived.

Democratic Portage City Councilman Collin Czilli says several voting sites didn’t open on time in that city and called the situation “unacceptable.”

Millions of Americans are casting votes Tuesday, and some are running into long lines, machine problems and other snafus.

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1:30 p.m.

Reports of broken ballot scanners are leading to long lines at several polling sites across New York City.

Turnout was so heavy Tuesday morning at one packed precinct on Manhattan’s Upper West Side that the line to scan ballots stretched around a junior high school gym.

Poll workers told voters that two of the roughly half-dozen scanners were malfunctioning.

In Brooklyn, voters arriving at two separate polling stations discovered that most scanners had broken down.

Veronica Vela said half of the scanners were broken at one of the polling sites in Crown Heights and waited two hours to vote. By that time, none of the machines were working.

Vela said she was forced to drop her ballot in an “emergency ballot box.”

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1:15 p.m.

The U.S. Border Patrol has canceled a “crowd control exercise” in Texas following criticism from civil liberties groups that it could dissuade people from voting.

Border Patrol agent Fidel Baca confirmed Tuesday that the exercise in a Latino neighborhood of El Paso was canceled, but declined to say why.

The Texas Civil Rights Project says the exercise, billed by the Border Patrol as a “mobile field force demonstration,” was to be held within a half-mile of a polling site.

The group is seeking an explanation from federal authorities about the intention of the exercise.

The group says in a statement that President Donald Trump “has drummed up anti-immigrant sentiment” and the exercise is “part and parcel of those efforts.”

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1 p.m.

Voters in an Atlanta neighborhood arrived at a library that’s been their polling site for years to find a car with two signs on its windshield that said in indelible markers, “NOT A VOTING LOCATION.”

Jessica Olson says she’s lived in the midtown neighborhood near the library polling place where she’s voted for nearly 10 years. Suddenly this year, she was told she isn’t supposed to vote here – she’s to go to a church nearly two miles away.

In this pedestrian neighborhood, many walk to the polls.

Fulton County said in a statement that the change was made in early 2018 because the library will close for renovations.

At the new polling site at the church, 26-year-old Mylandria Ponder says she’s been waiting an hour and 20 minutes, and is now leaving.

Across Georgia, multiple polling stations were reporting long lines, with the wait as long as three hours in some sites

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12:30 p.m.

A Florida polling place was put on lockdown for about 40 minutes after a man with a gun was reported in a nearby parking lot.

Palm Bay Police Lt. Steve Bland said passers-by getting into their cars on Tuesday saw the man sitting in his vehicle with a gun on his lap. They called 911 and police arrived as the man was driving out of the parking lot.

Bland said the man was in mid-eighties and did not make any threats. He says the gun wasn’t loaded.

Bland said the lockdown was a precaution, and the man was taken for a mental health evaluation but he was not arrested.

Supervisor of Elections Lori Scott said voters were not diverted to another site because the incident was resolved quickly.

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12:25 p.m.

Voting in a Rhode Island community only accessible by ferry was interrupted briefly after the sole voting machine on the island malfunctioned.

The Rhode Island Board of Elections tweeted at about 9 a.m. Tuesday that the machine on Prudence Island “experienced a technical difficulty.”

A new machine was ferried over and the board said the polling place is operating normally and all ballots have been counted.

Prudence Island in Narragansett Bay is part of the town of Portsmouth and has a population of about 200.

The board also said as of 11 a.m., more than 135,000 residents statewide had voted.

Rhode Islanders are voting in a three-way race for governor, and for congressional seats.

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12:58 a.m.

Federal and state officials have been working for nearly two years to shore up the nation’s election infrastructure from cyberattacks by Russians or others seeking to disrupt the voting process.

It turns out that many of the problems are closer to home.

Officials have identified a number of problems during early voting, from machines that changed voter selections to registration forms tossed out because of clerical errors.

Election officials and voting rights groups fear that voter confidence in the results could be undermined if such problems become even more widespread on Election Day, as millions of Americans head to the polls to decide pivotal races for Congress and governor.

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For AP’s complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Benjamin Lloyd

Benjamin Lloyd

Digital Executive Producer for KOAA News 5. Email - blloyd@koaa.com Twitter: @Ben_L_Lloyd​
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