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A Flood of Election 'Hits' Slows Internet to a Trickle


Internet traffic slowed to a crawl Tuesday evening as millions of people logged on to check up-to-the-minute election returns, download speech transcripts and chat about the results.

Harried election site monitors and frustrated users said the World Wide Web's first U.S. presidential election proved a lesson in both the power and weaknesses of the new medium.

"One minute we were dancing on the aft deck, and then we were hit by a tidal wave," said Dean Daniels, director of interactive services for CBS News.

The CBS site, which featured maps linked to near-instant returns, was so bombarded with Web surfers that two of its central computers temporarily stopped functioning. Daniels said the site received 1 million "hits" an hour, beginning at 3 p.m. PST.

"The sheer volume of traffic out there has caused problems for all the sites," said Steve Hull, managing director of PoliticsNow, whose partners include the Los Angeles Times, Newsweek and ABC News.

Still, many persevered, preferring to experiment in an interactive medium where it is easier to zero in on specific information rather than wait for it on television or radio.

"You have to be patient," said Frank Badami of Hollywood, who was shuttling between several election Web sites Tuesday. "But it's better because there are more clear-cut facts, less talking gibberish."

Times staff writer Eleanor Randolph contributed to this story.

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