Illinois Election Incidents Hotsheet

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Thanks for visiting the Illinois Election Incidents Hotsheet!

They say there are two things you don't want to see being made: Sausage, and legislation. Add a third: "elections."

Problems abound before, during, and after elections: Equipment failures, human error, mishaps. Not to mention malfeasance. Most fly under the radar. What does get aired is often filtered, pruned, condensed, and slanted to suit the publisher, whether newspaper, broadcaster, or government office.

What citizens really need are outlets where they can publish their own personal eye-witness reports—complete and intact, without filtering, editing, or watering down. Outlets that empower citizens to pin down, engage, and ultimately root out the deficiencies that corrupt our elections.

Outlets like the Illinois Elections Incidents Hotsheet.

Our site is designed to help you easily—
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Post a report here—and see it published instantly, word for word.
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Read up-to-the-minute citizen reports. (Click here then scroll down.)
View reports from previous elections. (See list at above right.)

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Thanks for visiting. And please check back for updates!

Roy Lipscomb
Hotsheet moderator

P. S. Please verify that your voter registration hasn't been zapped by the computer! Choose either Chicago or suburban Cook County.

Also, please--"Don't Vote Early".


  • At February 2, 2010 10:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am in DuPage County Downers Grove Township and am serving as a poll watcher for a local candidate. I have been to 6 polling places today.

    This morning I voted at Polling Place 153 at about 6:30am in the Faith United Methodist Church 432 59th St at the corner of 59th and Fairview in DG. They reported no problems and I was the 7th person to have my paper ballot scanned.

    At 9:52 I visited Polling Place 508 at the Westmont Community Center 75 E Richmond. The judges said they had 94 ballots cast at that time and that the paper ballot scanner did not work at the opening and "it was replaced" first thing. I do not know if they meant the card or the whole machine.

    At 10:10 I then went to Polling Place 511 at the Westmont Public Library 428 N Cass. They said they had 110 ballots cast and their paper ballot scanner also did not work at opening and was replaced. Again I don not know if that means the card or the machine itself.

    At 10:28 I went to Polling Place 366 O'Neill Middle School 635 59th St Downers Grove. They said they had 78 or so ballots cast but had a full house and a few people waiting. One election judge was asking voters if they wanted to use the touch screen machine. I told them they weren't supposed to encourage or discourage voters from using it but I don't know if she understood asking people if they wanted to use it was encouragement. They reported no problems, machine or otherwise.

    At 10:48 I next went to Polling Place 109 Downers Grove Community Church 6600 Fairview Ave where they said they had 171 ballots cast. The judges explicitly said the Election Commission replaced the card in the paper ballot scanner when it would not work first thing in the morning.

    At 11:07 I went to Polling Place 125 at El Sierra School, 6835 Fairmount St Downers Grove. They had about 156 ballots cast at that time. The judges said the paper ballot scanner kicked back a ballot or ballots first thing in the morning. One judge thought it was a problem with one malformed paper ballot. They fixed the problem by calling the Election Commission and following their instructions to press the button on the GFCI electrical outlet the paper ballot scanner was plugged into. It worked after that.

    Mark Garrity
    Democratic Precinct Committeeman Downers Grove Twp Pct 52

    I will be going back to these polling places later. If there is any add'l info I should gather please let me know ASAP.

  • At February 2, 2010 11:38 AM, Blogger Illinois Ballot Integrity Project said…


    Thanks for an excellent report. Here are a few questions:

    1. Who inserted the ballots into the scanner? The voter or a poll judge?

    2. While the ballots were being inserted into the scanner, were they held appropriately in "privacy sleeves"?

    3. Did you see or hear any of the machines give notice of undervoting? (A new state law requires such notice, though some deem this an invasion of the voter's privacy.)

    4. Did anyone other than the poll judges give voting instructions to voters in the polling place?


    Roy Lipscomb
    Hotsheet facilitator

  • At February 2, 2010 4:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Roy the name is Mark. I don't know who inserted the ballot into the scanner. It's been my experience in the past that whenever a ballot is rejected by the scanner a judge almost always examines the ballot for mistakes. I've admonished judges about that before.

    I did not hear anything about undervoting. I did not hear anyone other than judges giving voting instructions to voters.

    I find it much more troubling that at three out of six polling places I went to the opti scans didn't work at all and either were replaced or had their cards replaced.

    Am I the only one who has reported problems to you guys today? I find it hard to believe that I came across a 50% failure rate and possible violations of election law and I'm the only one.


  • At February 2, 2010 5:44 PM, Blogger Illinois Ballot Integrity Project said…


    Your report is the only one so far. But we'll be accepting reports for the next thirty days, and I'll be reminding and encouraging people to post.

    Your documenting a 50% rate of malfunctioning scanners is disturbing. The reliability and accuracy of each machine is supposed to be tested in its polling place just before the polls open. If these malfunctioning machines were not tested, that probably means that some machines in other precincts were not tested either.

    The turnout in my own precinct was extremely light. The ballot counter on the precinct's scanner indicated that only 139 ballots had been fed in ahead of mine. That's probably an good approximation of the total number of voters because touch-screen machines tend to be avoided by Chicago voters. In addition, I overhead an election judge saying that the voters had been merely "trickling in" all day.

    Thanks again,

    Roy Lipscomb
    Hotsheet facilitator

    P. S. Sorry about the name mixup.

  • At February 2, 2010 6:47 PM, Blogger Illinois Ballot Integrity Project said…

    I've just now come across this news item about a scanner bug discovered by McHenry County Clerk Kathy Schultz.

    She discovered that the scanners in use in half the counties in Illinois can lose all their votes if the polling place suffers a power outage.


    (Thanks to Voting News for bringing this to our attention.)

  • At February 2, 2010 7:48 PM, Anonymous Len Rideout said…

    Thanks for this great service, folks.

    County : Sangamon
    Town/Village : Chatham
    I vote in Ball 5 at the Chatham Baptist Church on Walnut Street.
    Name : Len Rideout, 2804 Hasting Road (not afraid to print my name and address as voting problems should have no friends defending them... at least no friends I'll ever be afraid of)

    The optical scanner was having problems at 7:20 AM. I was asked to simply enter my ballot in a holding area near the top of the machine and poll workers would put it through the scanner later. So, I had to trust that my votes actually counted today. I have no proof they went back and entered it. You see, I am due at work at 8:00 AM and could not stay any longer.

    Glad Bev Harris and is aware of this blogspot site.

  • At February 3, 2010 11:14 AM, Blogger Illinois Ballot Integrity Project said…


    Thanks for your report. Seems machine malfunctions are the order of the day.

    Do you know anyone who worked the polls nearby in your community? Can you ask them whether they observed or heard of machines malfunctioning in those precincts?

    In thinking over Mark's report, another question arises alongside "Why did the defective machines elude detection so long?" And that question is, "Why were there so many defective machines in such a small geographic area?"

    If the machines themselves were well designed and manufactured, then the answer may lie in how they were stored and/or transported. This is something that DuPage County should look into.

    Incidentally, I should qualify my statement that voting machines get tested for reliability just before the polls open. The test that they undergo is called "Logic and Accuracy Testing." Logic and accuracy are clearly only one component of machine reliability.

    Thanks again,

    Roy Lipscomb
    Hotsheet facilitator

  • At February 3, 2010 3:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I went back to the Westmont Library and they said the whole paper ballot scanner, not just the card was replaced in the morning, apparently sometime after the initial pre-work rush.

    I watched the last few voters submit their ballots to the scanner and a number of times they'd get it kicked back. The judges would tell them to turn it over or try again and it would take it all in, push it back out about an inch and then suck it in. The judges at the Library said they gave up on the privacy shield, many voters didn't bother with it. But the judges there were pretty good about maintaining their distance from the scanner and not looking at ballots.

    Mark Garrity

  • At February 4, 2010 7:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    A number of people were unable to vote this past Tuesday because they showed up at the wrong place without enough time to get to the correct place before the polls closed. We need to better educate people to the fact that early voting locations are ONLY FOR EARLY VOTING and cannot be used on election day. Many people who had early-voted at the Downers Grove Village Hall in past elections seemed to think that they could also vote there on election day this time around. There were people from Naperville who thought they could vote at our local precinct (DG-50)and definitely did not make it out to their local school on time to vote. Even people who lived further south in Downers Grove were too late to make it back to their own polling place.

  • At February 4, 2010 12:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I was an election judge in the 16th precinct, 33rd ward in Chicago, where the alderman is Mell.

    It was very clear how the election is run as part of the Machine. For example, the big sized fellows outside handing out lists of who to vote for, and then some of the voters using that list in deciding who to vote for. (At least the machinery for giving rides to people and bringing them that way seemed to be not working for this precinct.). Several of the judges in this and the adjoining precinct working in the same room had ties with the Machine and had patronage jobs (at least at one time), with the sheriff's department, mostly.

    Politically, the way this had impact, can be shown with this example. In this primary, people were to declare a party they wanted to receive a ballot for. Some were not clear that this was a primary and that they had to declare. Few were aware that the Green Party was a choice, along with Democrat and Republican. I made it a point to ask each person if they wanted a ballot for Democrat, Republican, or Green. When I did that, a few people did a double take, and even thought for a minute if they wanted a Green ballot. A few, after thinking for a minute, even took a Green ballot....The judge in the adjoining precinct only asked people if they wanted a Democratic or Republican ballot, and never mentioned Green, even tho I spoke to her about the importance of mentioning that there was an option of a Green ballot...This means that there needs to be a conscious effort by the organizers of the election to have the judges bring out this option.

    For some reason, and which I neglected to probe, judges did not even mention the electronic machine as voters came through the line. As a result in our precinct only one person voted on the electronic machine, specifically requesting to do so. I don't think the other precinct had many, if any, votes on their electronic machine.

    Turnout was very low. In the precinct I was in there were only a little over a hundred voters out of over 700 who were registered. Someone said the turnout was 16%. --Neal

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