BOSTON — Election watchers in Massachusetts reported mostly smooth operations at polling places by midday Tuesday, though there were issues with voting machines reported in Boston, Lawrence and Lowell.
"Overall, I would say in Massachusetts the election is going very smoothly," Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts, said during a midday update. "I think we have to remember that there are going to be more than 2 million people voting today, thousands of poll workers at sites across the state. It's a big undertaking and there always are going to be issues."
Election officials in Boston, Lawrence and Lowell have been responsive to calls to fix or replace faulty machines, Wilmot said. She said there are issues with voting machines every election and the concern is that broken machines will lead to long lines.
"And, in fact, we have seen some of that," she said.
Long lines and waits of an hour or more were reported in Boston during the peak hours of voting Tuesday morning — at Cathedral High School in the South End and at the YMCA in Chinatown, according to League of Women Voters of Massachusetts Executive Director Meryl Kessler.
Wilmot said early voting, which about 584,000 voters took advantage of this year, "has really helped with the line issue."
Wilmot, Kessler and Sophia Hall from Lawyers for Civil Rights briefed reporters Tuesday on observations and reports fielded by 300 trained volunteers who are monitoring polling places in urban areas across Massachusetts.
Volunteers are staffing a statewide nonpartisan call center for the national 1-866-OUR-VOTE voter hotline that is being led by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Common Cause, as well as local affiliates Lawyers for Civil Rights, Common Cause Massachusetts, ACLU Massachusetts, MassVOTE, the League of Women Voters MA, the Anti-Defamation League, and Demos.
By 10 a.m. Tuesday, there were about 7,000 calls to the nationwide hotline and about 100 calls to the hotline in Massachusetts.
Wilmot said other states have had more serious problems than Massachusetts on Tuesday.
"Nationwide we're seeing a lot of problems with voting machines, particularly in Georgia and Arizona and New York," she said. "We are also seeing long lines, under-resourced polling locations, certain instances of voter intimidation."