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Voting in America: Broken Printers, No Power Cords, Voting Machines Locked Away

We take a look at the problems voters faced around the United States today as they went to vote in a democracy that is increasingly in peril.

In 2016, the Democracy Index, which measures the state of democracy in countries around the world, downgraded the United States from a “full democracy” to a “flawed democracy.” One of the most fundamental aspects of a democracy is a secure and reliable election process – an issue that remains a problem in the United States.

A Flawed Democracy

In 2017, the U.S. received the same “flawed democracy” designation and ranked it number 21 on the list of democracies after Norway, Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand, Denmark, Ireland, Canada, Australia, Finland, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, the United Kingdom, Austria, Mauritius, Malta, Uruguay, Spain and South Korea.

The index ranks countries in five areas: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, functioning of government, political participation, and political culture. Election day and the ability of registered voters to vote with confidence that their vote will be counted correctly is a fundamental necessity of all five measures the index ranks.

In my own circle of friends, people shared stories of difficulty voting in recent years. One was told that because she hadn’t filled out the census she wasn’t allowed to vote in Massachusettes – not true, she becomes an “inactive voter”, but if she shows up to vote and has ID she is allowed to vote. Another’s husband, who is not white, was told when he presented his passport to vote at a polling station in Florida he couldn’t vote unless he had his driver’s license. Again not true, a passport is valid in Florida.

My friends who had trouble voting are all experienced voters and well educated on their voting rights, but still faced challenges to voting.

Today, in 2018, all across the country voters reported hours-long lines, locked away voting machines, dead batteries and no power cords for voting machines, polling stations running out of paper ballots and more problems as they went to vote.

Problems voting were so prevalent around the country that the hashtag #StayInLine took over Twitter. Reports of voting problems are listed below and will be updated as we find more.

Voting in America: #StayInLine


Gwinnett Country voters reported polling machines were down and ballot card machines weren’t working. Voters waited over four hours to vote. Subsequent reports said the issue was a lack of power cords when batteries for the voting machines ran out.



Voters in Detroit arrived to their polling station to vote only to find they couldn’t vote because the voting machines were locked in a closet.


In Arlington voters at one polling station tried to vote but were told voting machines were not working and they did not have enough paper ballots.

In Harris County, Texas polling stations did not open on time, but the Texas Civil Rights Project sued to have the polling stations stay open later and won.


At one precinct in Arizona, voters were told the polling station had run out of ballots and were sent to another station to vote but then told they can not vote at that location.

In Maricopa County voters showed up at one polling station to discover that the two printers designated to print ballots were broken. Voters were told to vote at another location.


Voters are waiting in line for four hours at the City Hall in New Haven only to be told if their vote hasn’t been processed by closing time they won’t be able to vote.

Lauren von Bernuth

Lauren is one of the co-founders of Citizen Truth. She graduated with a degree in Political Economy from Tulane University. She spent the following years backpacking around the world and starting a green business in the health and wellness industry. She found her way back to politics and discovered a passion for journalism dedicated to finding the truth.

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