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Electronic-vote machine rejects Obama vote

Claims of faulty voting machines cast suspicions on what is already a tense day for most Americans, as they set out to elect the next president.

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WASHINGTON: Computer problems, as well as human ones, have drawn complaints across the US as millions of Americans go to the polls.

One Pennsylvania voter highlighted a problem with voting machines on YouTube, complete with video, in which a touchscreen changed his choice from President Barack Obama to Republican Mitt Romney.

"I initially selected Obama but Romney was highlighted," the man wrote. "I assumed it was being picky so I deselected Romney and tried Obama again, this time more carefully, and still got Romney."

Vision of a reportedly faulty machine in Pennsylvania.

Vision of a reportedly faulty machine in Pennsylvania.

This was not the first allegation of foul-ups with electronic machines. In Ohio, some Republicans claimed machines were changing Romney votes to Obama, while Democrats accused Republican state officials of installing untested "experimental" software at the last minute.

To make matters worse in the crucial swing state, some voting machines were malfunctioning in parts of the Cleveland area, said the Plain Dealer, which quoted election officials as saying ballots would be counted even if scanning machines were down.

In New Jersey, a late decision to allow voters displaced by superstorm Sandy to cast ballots by email caused confusion and frustration.

"Oh no! email box for Essex County Clerk's box is full. No one can email in their ballots," said a tweet from one resident.

Betsy Morais, a writer for The New Yorker, found similar glitches.

"I went to the clerk's website, downloaded the application, and printed out two pages, which I filled in, scanned, and submitted by e-mail," she wrote.

"It bounced back. I tried again, and once more the message failed. It took three tries to get through to the clerk's office by phone. 'Oh, you can just go online to our website to find the ballot and fax it in,' I was told. I was confused."

Another source of confusion was a last-minute modification, just hours before polls opened, stipulating that voters needed to mail in paper ballots as a verification of the email vote.

The news website Buzzfeed reported that in two major New Jersey counties, email addresses advertised on the website of the county clerk were down, and that one county clerk posted his hotmail address on Facebook for voters.

That in turn prompted a Facebook response from one netizen, who said, "Using your personal hotmail address for official use is very dangerous and quite likely illegal".

In Florida, The Tampa Bay Times reported that hundreds of voters received automated "robo-calls" telling them the election was on Wednesday.

An official told the paper a glitch in the phone system allowed the calls to go through early on Tuesday, telling voters the election was "tomorrow".

"We stopped it immediately when we found out about it," Nancy Whitlock of Pinellas County told the newspaper.

A similar glitch was reported in the US capital Washington.

The Arizona Republic reported that robo-calls directed voters to the wrong polling stations, and that Democrats claimed it was an intentional effort by Republicans to misdirect people amid a tight Senate race.

Agence France-Presse