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Millions vote, but lines short on election day

Millions vote, but lines short on election day
People vote during the U.S. presidential election in the gymnasium of the Victory Park Recreation Centre), in Pasadena, California, November 2, 2020. (Reuters)

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DETROIT – Americans by the millions patiently lined up on Tuesday to cast ballots at libraries, schools and arenas amid a deadly pandemic, in an orderly show of civic duty that belied deep tensions shaping one of the most polarizing presidential campaigns in U.S. history.

The face masks worn by many voters and the sight of boarded-up stores in some city centres were reminders of two big issues defining the 2020 election, with COVID-19 still ravaging parts of the country after a summer of sometimes violence-marred protests against police brutality and racism.

The FBI and the New York attorney general’s office opened investigations into spates of anonymous robocalls urging people in several states to stay home.

And a federal judge ordered the U.S. Postal Service to conduct a sweep of some facilities across the country for undelivered mail-in ballots and to ship them immediately to election offices to be counted.

Civil liberties groups and law enforcement were on high alert for interference with voters at the polls, but few if any major disruptions were reported by late afternoon.

In a troubling incident in the battleground state of North Carolina, a man legally carrying an unconcealed firearm was arrested and charged with trespassing at a polling site in Charlotte.

Police said the suspect, Justin Dunn, 36, had loitered at the site after voting in the morning, “possibly intimidating other voters”. A precinct official asked him to leave and he returned two hours later, when he was taken into custody, authorities said.

In New York City, some voting lines snaked around blocks, but in many places, from Los Angeles to Detroit and Atlanta, lines were short or non-existent. Poll workers guessed this was due to an unprecedented wave of early voting. More than 100 million ballots were cast before Election Day, a new record. (Reuters)