4 Ways Election Day Could Go Horribly Wrong

Chances of 2000-style debacle high, experts say

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 5, 2012 1:22 AM CST | Updated Nov 5, 2012 5:03 AM CST

(Newser) – Election Day is almost here and experts fear that the chances of a 2000-style mess that prevents the winner from being known for days or weeks are higher than ever this time around. NBC runs through some of the worst-case scenarios.

  • Provisional ballots could make it impossible to determine the winner straight away, especially in Ohio, where more than 200,000 voters have not returned absentee ballots. If they try to vote on Tuesday, they will have to cast provisional ballots, which Ohio law says can't be counted until Nov. 16.

  • "Citizen poll watchers" could cause chaos. Groups like the Tea Party-inspired "True the Vote" are planning a major effort to sniff out voter fraud, and voting right groups who fear legitimate voters could be intimidated are sending out their own groups of poll watchers.
  • Printing errors and voting machine problems could delay the vote count in swing states, and if a recount is required, Virginia and Pennsylvania are among 16 states using touch-screen voting machines that don't leave a paper trail that can be verified in a recount.
  • The aftermath of superstorm Sandy could keep voting totals low in affected states including New Jersey, where residents will be allowed to submit ballots by fax or email. The hardest-hit states are all expected to vote Democratic, but the storm has raised the chances that Obama could win the Electoral College while losing the popular vote.

A delivery driver pushes a vote-counting scanner into a truck at the Pulaski County Election Commission warehouse in Little Rock, Ark.
A delivery driver pushes a vote-counting scanner into a truck at the Pulaski County Election Commission warehouse in Little Rock, Ark.   (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
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There’s a realistic chance that we will not know which candidate won the presidential election in Ohio because of the existence of provisional ballots , that we will be in overtime . - Edward Foley, an election law expert at Ohio State University

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