The Latest: Italy polling lines blamed on anti-fraud checks


Polling station workers prepare ballots in Rozzano, near Milan, Italy, Saturday, March 3, 2018. An election in Italy on Sunday will determine the makeup of the nations Parliament and its next government. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)


The Latest on Italy’s national election on Sunday (all times local):

4:35 p.m.

Italian authorities are urging voters to leave plenty of time to cast their ballots since the process is taking longer than usual due to new anti-fraud measures.

Voters have complained of long lines — some of more than an hour — at polling stations around the country.

Rome’s city hall urged voters to head out as soon as possible, or at least an hour before polls close at 11 p.m. (2200 GMT) Sunday.

City authorities said the delays were due “in great part” to new anti-fraud measures. Under the new system, each ballot has a serial number that is entered in the registration books alongside the name of the voter who receives the ballot.

After the voter fills out the ballot and seals it, the detachable coupon with the serial number on it is removed and presented to the head of the polling station to make sure it matches the number in the registry.

The polling station chief then deposits the ballot in the box without any identifying information.


1:25 p.m.

A topless Femen activist has disrupted polling in Italy’s national election while ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi was casting his ballot.

The woman, who had the words “Berlusconi, you’ve expired” written in black marker on her topless torso, jumped onto the table at the Milan polling station as Berlusconi was voting.

Photographers in the room to shoot the scene jostled for position amid the chaos. Berlusconi was escorted out.

News reports recalled that Femen activists disrupted Berlusconi’s vote in 2013 as well.


12:55 p.m.

Italy’s interior ministry says the turnout for Italy’s general election at noon (1100GMT) stands at 19.3 percent, five hours after polls opened.

Long lines awaited voters in Rome, Milan and other cities, and some voters expressed confusion at the ballots.

It was not possible to compare Sunday’s turnout to Italy’s last general election because the 2013 vote took place over two days.

Some ballot glitches were reported in Palermo, Mantova and in two small towns of Alessandria, where the wrong ballots were delivered. The ANSA news agency said the vote in those towns was suspended when election officials discovered the error after some 40 ballots were cast.

Some Palermo polling stations opened late because of the ballot glitch.

Polling stations were closing at 11 p.m. (2200 GMT)


12:15 p.m.

Steve Bannon, the nationalist architect of Donald Trump’s White House campaign, says Italy’s election is “crucial” for the global populist movement and that if populists don’t win now they will in the future.

In an interview published in Sunday’s Corriere della Sera, Bannon says he came to Rome to “observe” the election. He says he’s particularly keen to see how the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and anti-immigrant, nationalist League party fare.

He said: “I think if they create a coalition among all the populists it would be fantastic, it would terrify Brussels and pierce it in its heart.”

Bannon, who crafted Trump’s anti-Muslim ban and backs a U.S. border wall with Mexico, said Italians have had enough of Europe’s migrant crisis. Describing himself as a “proud Catholic,” he said Pope Francis had nevertheless “exacerbated the migrant crisis” with his call for Europe to open its arms to refugees.

He said: “The pope is infallible in doctrine, but not in church policy in the world.”


9:50 a.m.

The outgoing president of Italy’s Senate is voicing concern that some polling stations in Palermo were still closed hours into election day due to delays in getting proper ballots delivered.

In a tweet Sunday, Pietro Grasso said such delays and errors were “unacceptable.” Grasso, who broke away from the Democratic Party to start his own leftist party, said he hoped the problem wouldn’t discourage people from voting.

Overnight, Palermo authorities had to reprint about 200,000 ballots because the wrong ones were delivered. That delayed the opening of some stations.

In Rome, meanwhile, voters complained that the ballots were too complicated to understand.

Sister Vincenza, voting at a polling station on Rome’s Aventine hill, said the process was “all mixed up.” She said: “You feel as if you have gone there prepared but it is not that clear. Anyway, I have to go to Mass.”

— This item was corrected to show that Grasso’s party is left-wing, not center-left.


8:15 a.m.

The first glitches in Italy’s closely watched elections have started to be reported.

In Palermo, 200,000 ballots had to be reprinted overnight because the wrong ones were delivered. In Mantova, where voters are also voting for the leadership of the Lombardy region, the logo of the Democratic Party regional candidate was printed erroneously.

The ANSA news agency said there would likely be court challenges to the outcome as a result.

More than 46 million Italians were voting Sunday in a general election that is being closely watched to determine if Italy would succumb to the populist, anti-establishment and far-right sentiment that has swept through much of Europe in recent years.


6:12 a.m.

Polls have opened in Italy in in one of the most uncertain elections in years.

Sunday’s vote is one being watched to see if Italy will succumb to the populist, euroskeptic and far-right sentiment that has swept through Europe in recent years.

The campaign was marked by the prime-time airing of neofascist rhetoric and anti-migrant violence that culminated in a shooting spree last month against six Africans. While the center-right coalition that capitalized on the anti-migrant sentiment led the polls, analysts predict the likeliest outcome is a hung parliament.

More than 46 million Italians were eligible to vote from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. (0600-2200GMT), including Italians abroad who already mailed in ballots. Exit polls were expected after polls closed, projections sometime thereafter and consolidated results Monday.

You may also like

Hot News