Faulty voting machines and other systems failures will be getting a lot of attention today, but some of the biggest problems on Election Day are the litany of small break-downs that, when added together, can wreak havoc in a close race.

For example: polls not opening up on time. With precincts being staffed by volunteers, often elderly, many voters flock to the polls before work only to find the buildings aren't open. Research shows that these turned-away morning voters, juggling hectic schedules, often don't make it back to vote. In 2000 and 2004, horror stories flooded in across the country of precincts that opened hours late, but didn't offer any alternatives to time-strapped voters.

Durham County, North Carolina showed a better way this morning: when one poll opened an hour late, county election director Mike Ashe declared that results for the entire county would be delayed an hour, while Precinct No. 23 at The River Church remained open an hour after the rest of the polls closed, to accommodate those turned away in the morning.

To get a sense of how many votes could have been lost, over 100 voters -- at just one precinct out of 56 in Durham County -- were waiting at the doors of the locked church, which was supposed to have opened at 6:30 a.m. Who knows how many gave up and left.