Difficulties hit US election

NEW YORK - A likely record presidential election voter turnout has polling officials across the United States braced for problems.

NEW YORK - A likely record presidential election voter turnout has polling officials across the United States braced for problems.

Some difficulties surfaced early yesterday as people turned out in droves even before balloting began before sunrise in eastern states.

Voters had to use paper ballots because of problems with electronic voting machines in some New Jersey precincts. In Virginia long lines of voters waited even longer in one case because, poll workers said, the head of a branch library had overslept.

In Ohio Franklin County board of elections spokesman Ben Piscitelli said officials were dealing with typical glitches such as jammed backup paper tapes on voting machines.

Lawsuits alleging voter suppression have already surfaced in Virginia, a hotly contested state. A judge refused late Monday to extend poll hours or add voting machines to largely black precincts in some areas.

The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, in a federal lawsuit, demanded those changes, saying minority neighbourhoods would experience overwhelming turnouts and there weren't enough electronic machines.

Lawsuits have become common fodder in election battles. In 2000 the results of the election were held up until the US supreme court ultimately decided to halt a recount over contested votes in Florida, leaving George W Bush the winner. - Sapa-AP

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