News World Voter-suppression claims in key US state

Voter-suppression claims in key US state

US Election 2016 North Carolina
A volunteer checks in a voter in Raleigh, North Carolina. Photo: AAP
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Claims of voter suppression have marred election day in the battleground state of North Carolina after polling places in a “heavy black area” were plagued by technical problems.

Machine glitches in Durham County led officials to switch to paper ballots in at least five precincts, leading to longer waiting times than expected.

The North Carolina Board of Elections ruled it to keep eight precincts open between 20 minutes and an hour longer than scheduled, after an advocacy group took the issue to the courts.

North Carolina, one of the larger states considered a toss up, is crucial to both candidates’ chances of winning.

With around 70 per cent of the vote counted at 2pm (AEDT), the state was still too close to call, as Mr Trump led by around 120,000 votes.

The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, a leading civil rights organisation, questioned the timing and location of the glitches.

“Number one: We demand that they fix this glitch,” chapter president Rev William Barber said in a statement reported by CNN.

“There were no glitches in early voting. Why now and why in a heavy black voting area?”

African-Americans make up 37 per cent of registered voters in Durham County, according to CNN.

A spokeman for the North Carolina State Board of Elections told CNN the decision to switch to paper ballots resulted from an “abundance of caution”.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump leapt on claims of voting machines problems in Utah, but came under fire from journalists for his description of the situation.

Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said on US cable network MSNBC that the state might not be called tonight.

“It might be that close,” he said.