Thursday, September 9, 2010

reports of problems observed firsthand
Election systems aren't perfect. They need to be monitored. Problems need to be reported, corrected.

But like many tasks today, there are too few hands for the job. And the job is getting more and more complex.

You can help.

First, report any problem you encounter—during campaigning, voter registration, balloting, or any other time.

Second, publish your report widely. This not only alerts fellow voters to immediate pitfalls, it helps build a database for revamping the system.

Our Hotsheet lets you publish your report instantly—complete, intact, unfiltered—directly to fellow voters, troubleshooters, journalists, researchers, and other interested observers.

Our site makes it easy to—

Call a hotline for immediate help.
Post a report—and see it published here instantly.
Upload audio or video files.
Read Latest up-to-the-minute reports.
Read All reports, starting with the oldest.

Questions, comments? Post a note here! Or email us at the address below.

Thanks for visiting. And please check back soon for updates!

Roy Lipscomb
Hotsheet Moderator

P. S. Please don't vote before election day! To find out why, click here.
Low Tech Voting Gets "Thumbs Up"


Low-Tech Voting Gets "Thumbs Up"

Chicago--With elections approaching, the Illinois Ballot Integrity Project (IBIP) has this advice for voters:

1) Vote in person, not by mail.

2) Vote on election day, not earlier.

3) Vote on a paper ballot, not on a touch-screen voting machine.

"These three steps will help protect your ballot from loss, damage, and alteration," says IBIP Director of Technology, Roy Lipscomb. "The longer the delay between the casting of a ballot and the counting of a ballot, the greater the chance of mishaps."

This risk is not abated by election-day voting on touch-screen voting machines. The tenuous reliability of such machines has led to their being banned by Florida, California, and other states--plus countries like Ireland, the Netherlands, and Germany.

To compensate, such machines are now commonly required to back up their digitized votes by printing a paper copy. But this remedy falls short.

* Only a small percentage of votes ever get audited (usually 5% or less),   so it's rare that paper copies ever get consulted.

* Most voters do not verify the paper copy of their votes.

* Many paper copies turn out to be defective.

* Even if the paper copy exactly matches the digital copy,
  both may be spurious.

"Protect your votes from going AWOL," says Lipscomb. "Vote in person, on election day--and with a paper ballot."

The Illinois Ballot Integrity Project is a non-partisan grassroots organization pushing for election systems that are fully transparent, accurate, and verified. Their homepage is

# # #

Telephone Hotlines


Election Protection Coalition
Year-round voting info and help.
On Nov 2, attorneys will be on call
to address problems at the polls.

Cook County

773/269-7870 Chicago Elections Office

312/603-0906 Cook County Suburban Elections Office

   For English-speaking operator, press 1 then 8.

   For Spanish-speaking operator, press 2 then 8.

773/869-2970 Cook County State's Attorney's Office
Lynn McCarthy, Supervisor
Election Fraud Unit

(Chicago and Suburban)

DuPage County

(630) 407-5600 DuPage County Elections Office

(630) 407-8000 DuPage County State's Attorney

Lake County

(847) 377-2410 Lake County Elections Hotline

(847) 377-3000 Lake County State's Attorney

Where to Upload Video/Audio Reports

Video: YouTube
Audio: IBIP

(Videos can be up to 2 gigabytes in size and 15 minutes in length.)

Reports and Comments


Illinois Ballot Integrity Project said...

Early report from Clare Tobin, who is pollwatching in Berwyn:

1. In one precinct, two of the three touch-screen machines were malfunctioning. One was out of calibration. The other would not accept voter cards. A judge chose to continue using the latter machine. He coped by pressing the manual override button for each voter.

2. In one precinct, a judge twice mistakenly programmed the voter card for a federal ballot. One voter caught the problem before voting. The other voter discovered the problem only after voting. The latter was very upset, as she is a state worker and wanted to cast a vote for governor.

Ade said...

I used the touch screen and only the federal ballot loaded. I brought this to the attention of the election workers. They gave me a number to call and that was it. I have called three different numbers today to see if I can go back and complete my voting and I am still waiting for a callback. The staff at my precint have no clue on working the touch screen. I was actually just given the card and told to go vote. Someone had to tell the worket to load the card. If I am assuming that the cards have to be loaded with ballots why aren't they programmed to be loaded with all the ballots. Why should the programing be left in the hands of volunteers who had bare minimum training. As of now I am being robbed of my right to vote.

Illinois Ballot Integrity Project said...


Give the Election Protection Coalition a call at 866-OURVOTE (866-687-8683) and tell them your situation. They're quite knowledgeable and dedicated, and they may be able to serve as your advocate.

Benjamin said...

While voting today a poll worker threatened me with bodily harm (she threatened to break my legs, specifically) if I ever came back to vote at my precinct's polling place again when I elected not to show her my driver's license.

This is the third time I've had a problem with this woman at my polling place. This was in the Joliet 60th District at a little church on Benton St. in Joliet (between parks and eastern). I didn't write down the poll worker's name and I'm at work now so I can't go back and read her name tag before the place closes.

In addition to getting quite angry the poll worker announced my green party affiliation several times, spitting it out like an epitath, "He's green party" she said more than once.

I was eventually able to vote after another poll worker called the election hotline. It took 45 minutes and I was late for work because of her antics. There was a sheriff's deputy there dropping off a absentee ballot and a poll watcher. I know I should have recorded their names but I was already late for work.

Is there anyone who has some time to head to my polling place and take some pictures of the poll workers and/or get their names? I intend to file a complaint with the proper authorities as soon as I am able. (Taking photos and/or video at a polling place is 100% legal with the caveat that if they ask you to stop or leave you must do so as the church is a privately owned building, a cell phone held surreptitiously shouldn't draw any ire.)



Dr. Lora Chamberlain said...

Nov 2nd, approx 8pm
Dr. Lora Chamberlain, Poll watcher for IBIP at Chicago Ward 40, Precincts 29 and 2 in the same school, in a school theater. I went to gather a couple of poll tapes at the end of the evening. Prec. 2 had 133 voters and all the ballots were reconciled and the poll tape matched the numbers of voters on the spindle, no voters used the touch screen machines at all in Prec 2.
In Precinct 29, the spindle had 233 voter signatures on it but the optical scanner poll tape had 234 voters. Both of the Senate races had a total of 233 voters when added up but the Gov. race had 234 votes, no other race had a total of 234 votes, all the other races had totals of less than 233 votes. The election judge told me also that there was one voter who had under voted the Gov. race in Prec. 29, so the Govs race should have had 232 votes in it but it did not, it had a total of 234 votes. When the election judges called into the Chicago Board of Elections to report that they had not reconciled all the numbers, they were told to forget about it, that one of the voters in Prec. 2 had probably put their ballot through their (Prec. 29's) optical scanner by mistake, even though that would have been impossible. Prec 29, (the Prec. in question) was on a lower level than Prec. 2, so a voter from Prec 2 would have had to walk down some stairs from the stage level to a lower level, in full sight of all the judges, to be able to put their ballot erroneously in Prec. 29's optical scanner. So Prec 2 had reconciled all the numbers of ballots with the numbers of voters and votes cast, Prec 29, (the one in question), had 233 voters signed up to vote, (the election judges had counted and recounted the number of voter signatures on the spindle in front of me several times), no voter used the touch screen machine at all but the optical scanner had 234 voters on it, with only the Govs race having extra votes, which was the exact race which was under voted by one of the voters. What happened here? Did votes get counted a couple of times? Did it happen at any other Precs?

Roy L. said...

Lora, thanks much for your careful report.

An essential first step in diagnosing this problem is answering the question, "Does the number of ballots actually cast in the precinct equal the number displayed by the optiscan on its counter and on its printout?"

If the numbers are different, the optiscan display and printout are in error. Possibly the machine was not properly zeroed out before the polls opened.

If the numbers are the same, then most likely there was a voter whose name did not appear in the spindle book and who therefore voted by provisional ballot. (In Chicago, provisional voting is by paper ballot. In suburban Cook County, it's by touch-screen.) Coincidentally, either this voter or another voter abstained in the Senate race.

Some other conceivable explanations:

a. One of the ballot applications was removed from the spindle. (Perhaps a judge gave it to the voter like a receipt.)

b. One voter was allowed to vote twice, perhaps to compensate for a judge's mistake.

c. The optiscan had a hardware or software malfunction.

Dr. Lora Chamberlain said...

The following six reports are a summary of my experiences in Suburban Cook County yesterday from 6am to approximately 2pm.

I sent a copy of this to the Election Protection Coalition and to David Orr's office.

Dr. Lora Chamberlain said...

Thornton Precs 85, 48, 141, 53
Downey Park
300 Jeffery St.
Calumet City

1) This polling place was very, very, very cramped, 4 precs in a very small room. The entrance was very confusing, there was no signage at all at the door, with only very small prec. numbers hanging over the various areas that could not be seen at all from the door. There were Maps but they were very, very small and hanging on the election judges tables and quickly hidden by voters standing at the tables signing in. I asked one of the election judges to post a map at the door and she brushed me off saying, "maps don't help at all honey!" Well something could have helped, almost every voter was in complete confusion upon entering this polling place. Even a sign with the numbers of the precincts and arrows pointing to where they were located in the room would have helped.

2) From the start of the day, 6am-till I left at 7:00am, Thornton 85, 48, 141 all had their touch screen machines out of order because they could not activate their smart cards!

Dr. Lora Chamberlain said...

Thornton Prec. 6 and 120 (120 had been combined with old Prec.162)
Everett Dirksen Middle School
1650 Pulaski Rd.
Calumet City
7:00am - 8:00am

1) This polling place was also very, very tight. There was hardly any room to move in this room at all and I am not kidding about this! Prec 120 was placed in front of Prec 6 and you could not even see that Prec. 6 was in the back of the room from the door. I did get the election judge to put out a sign when voters walked in that said Prec 6 in the back and that helped. 1 voter walked out early in the day because she waited in the line for Prec. 120 for a long time and then got to the table and found out that Prec 6th was in the back of the room and that was her Prec.

There is just no need for this kind of confusion, this is what signs and maps are all about but once again the maps that the election judges got in their kits from David Orr's office were so small as to be unusable!!!! You had to have a magnifying glass to see the streets and they were hung on the election judge tables and no one could even see them! When I was an Election Judge in Evanston in 2008, they had large maps with the streets readily readable that were posted in a very accessible place at the door and actually helpful to the voters!!! What gives, why not put big signs and big maps into all the election kits for all of the suburbs???

2) The election judges in both precincts were not very well educated on the absentee ballot situations and the need for affidavits.

3) Thornton 120 had a broken touch screen machine as well, with a side screen that was hanging into the voter as they tried to use it.

Dr. Lora Chamberlain said...

Prec 130
Garden House of River Oaks
1340 Ring Rd.
Calumet City
Approximately 8am

This polling place opened late by 30 minutes because of a water line break right over where the voting was going to be. Nothing in the election kit was ruined, it was moved fast enough.

Judges needed some instruction about the absentee ballot situations and affidavits.

Dr. Lora Chamberlain said...

Prec 10
VFW Hall
Hirsch Ave and 153rd
Calumet City

All the smart cards are not being activated by this card activator machine HAAT0118, they had to go to manual mode for the touch screens, they are leaving the smart cards in the machines and every time the voter wants to vote on the machine they have to manually allow it. One of the election judges figured this out with the help of over the phone assistance from David Orr's office.

Dr. Lora Chamberlain said...

Calumet Park
Prec 12 and 15
12426 S. Loomis

A report of electioneering was received by Election Protection. I went there, no electioneering was seen. The election judges had everything moving along fairly well in both Precs.

But the Transmitter/Card Activator for Prec 12 was broken, they called for a technician, the serial number of the machine was HAAT3239. They unplugged it and took it around to try to get a signal and no signal was obtained anywhere in the entire gymnasium even though the Transmitter/card activator machine for Prec 15 worked fine. They were told that someone will come from the BOE and help them transmit at closing.

Anonymous said...

Hello everyone, here is the number to which you can report illegal activity which you witnessed on the day of election. Even now, several days later they are taking reports. It is the State's Attorney's office and the woman's name is Lynn McCarthy, her number is 773-869-2970, this is for City of Chicago but she will know the Suburban Cook County Attorney as well.
Dr. Lora Chamberlain 773-486-7660

Melisa Urda said...

Pollwatcher: Melisa Urda (Report #1)
Time: 5:00-10:21 AM,
_____ 11:40-11:44PM
______ 6:58-9:00PM
Date: 11/02/10
Location: Community Methodist Church
________ 20 N Center St.
________ Naperville, Il 60540
Poll ID: 091
Township/Precinct: Lisle 6, 1, 88, 6-757

Optical Scan (OS) Machine Serial #: 84529
OS Memory Card #: 4384A
OS Count at 8:40AM: 127

OS Final Count: 530
TSx Final Count: 110

TSx Serial Number: 25555
TSx Memory Card Seal: 1299208
TSx Canister Number: 008722
TSx Memory Card Number: TMC 1546

ASKed (Hand held device to determine voter eligibility): Had to be reset by the judges to start it up

Field Reprentative: George Hannmemann, Field Route #24, checked the counts on the machines to determine peak times of voting for the Election Commission. Time: 8:40AM.

Observations: Judges were shown pollwatchers rights in the Illinois Election code, so that they were aware that pollwatchers could view all reasonably requested papers, as well as take machine tallies throughout the day, point out a specific code which was not followed, could remain in the polls before, during and after the election, provided that they are in the poll prior to election close.

I asked the judges if they were trained regarding the voters’ or pollwatchers’ rights. They said no.

Page 37-38 of the Judges manual states the following:

"All accredited pollwatchers are allowed to be present in the polling place before the polls open, throughout voting hours, and after the polls close. Pollwatchers may only observe. At no time may a pollwatcher interfere with the orderly conduct of the election. Pollwatchers are prohibited from touching any supplies or materials.

"The Judges of Election are permitted, but not required, to check off the names of individuals who have voted on a Polling Place List of Registered Voters or other lists provided by pollwatchers. This is only permissible as long as it does not interfere with the conduct of the election. If the judges decide to provide this courtesy, the list must be made available to any accredited pollwatcher.

"A pollwatcher may request from the Judges of Election a copy of the election results printed on the AccuVote Optical Tabulator and the AccuVote TSX."

Machine Malfunctions: No problems with the election machines malfunctioning.

Supply problem: Not enough felt tipped pens; many were drying out at the end of the election.

Melisa Urda said...

Pollwatcher: Melisa Urda (Report #2)
Time: 11:44PM
Date: 11/02/10
Location: 5th Ave. Station
________ Naperville, Il 60563
Poll ID: 003
Township/Precinct: Lisle 4, 78

TSx Serial Number: 253407
Optical Scan Machine Serial #: Cannot see unless SN, during election. Serial # is only observable before and after the election when the machines are being placed onto and taken off of the black ballot box respectively.
OS Memory Card #: 4384A

Voters Complaints: The voting area is too crowded, and lighting was terrible. Many voters complained that it was too dark to even see the ballots.
Observations:Area is unsecured. There is no physical walled room where the poll is placed, rather it is located an entrance of the building. According to Illinois Election Code, only authorized personnel are allowed in the poll. Yet, people were meandering all around the poll, since it was in an open space. I am unsure if machines were set up the day before the election, due to the insecurity of the space.
Machine Malfunctions: As of time of pollwatchers there were no recorded problems with either machines.
Supply problem: Not enough felt tipped pens; many were drying out at the end of the election.
Ballot Tallying: Asked Technical Judge James Keables if they would be abiding by Illinois Election Code:
"(10 ILCS 5/24B-10.1)
"Sec. 24B-10.1. In-Precinct Counting Equipment;
"Immediately after the closing of the polls, the precinct judges of election shall open the ballot box and count the number of ballots to determine if the number agrees with the number of voters voting as shown on the Precinct Tabulation Optical Scan Technology equipment and by the applications for ballot or, if the same do not agree, the judges of election shall make the ballots agree with the applications for ballot in the manner provided by Section 17-18 of this Code."

I asked Keables if the judges were going to account for all ballots as the law indicates—to count the cast ballots. He stated that they said he was going to follow the procedures set forth by the DuPage County Election Commission as written in the Judge’s Manual and taught in training rather than those I pointed out and prescribed by Illinois Election Code. He stated that they would not be counting the cast ballots. They would instead count just the provisional ballots, the write-ins and spoiled ballots. He said that he would let the Election Commission sort out procedure.

Again, the DuPage County Election Commission has failed to both train the judges and print the correct procedure of the Illinois Election Code in the Judge’s manual, though this was pointed out by a pollwatcher during the 2008 election. On pages 80-83 of the manual there is no mention of COUNTING the cast ballots, but rather reconciling the machine poll tapes and the readout of the voting machines.

Melisa Urda said...

Pollwatcher: Melisa Urda (Report #3)
Time: 12:30 PM
Date: 11/02/10
Location: Goodrich School
________ 3450 Hobson Rd.
________ Woodridge, IL
Poll ID: 202
Township/Precinct: Lisle 24, 42

Field Reprentative: Valerie Prohammer.
Machine Malfunction: (As reported by a judge)
5:31 AM: Judges called the Election Commission. Optical Scan Machine was not working. It would not start or print out a tape at set up, after plug in.
(Later):Field Rep. Valerie Prohammer arrived (time unknown by judge), tried to start the machine. She could not get it started. She called a technician (Tom X) to bring a new memory card. When the tech arrived, he put the old memory card in an envelope, and left it at the poll and replaced it with a new one. I asked the judges for the both the serial numbers of the old and new memory cards. I was unable to get the information.
9:00 AM: According to the judge, the machine was put back into service around 9:00AM.
(Later): Before the machine was fixed with a new memory card, voters cast the optical scan ballots, and then they were placed in a special section of the black ballot box. After the machine was started, a bipartisan team of judges then put the sequestered ballots through the optical scanner.

Melisa Urda said...

Pollwatcher: Melisa Urda (Report #4)
Time: 2:30 PM
Date: 11/02/10
Location: Woodridge Club Condos
________ 2299 Country Club Dr
________ Woodridge, IL 60517
Poll ID: 540
Township/Precinct: Lisle 53

Field Reprentative: Valerie Prohammer helped with machine setup at 6:05-6:10, checked machines.
Machine Malfunctions: None at the time of this report.
# Provisional Voters: (2) One provisional voter had been on the list for years. The other received his citizenship over 2.5 years earlier. Wife was on the voter rolls, he wasn’t.

Melisa Urda said...

Pollwatcher: Melisa Urda (Report #5)
Time: 3:30 PM
Date: 11/02/10
Location: AMC Woodrige 18 Theaters
________ 10000 Woodward Ave.
________ Woodridge, IL 60517
Poll ID: 294
Township/Precinct: Lisle 41, 128

Field Reprentative: James Peterson checked machines tallies at 2PM.
Observations: I asked if they were going to count the ballots according to the election code. They instead stated that they would only check that the machine paper tapes, the machine readouts agree with the number of voter applications, as instructed by the Judge’s Manual.

Melisa Urda said...

Pollwatcher: Melisa Urda (Report #6)
Time: 4:00 PM
Date: 11/02/10
Location: Our Lady of Mr. Carmel Catholic Church
________ 8404 Cass Ave.
________ Darien, Il 60561
Poll ID: 776
Township/Precinct: DG 117, 60

Procedure: I asked what the procedure was for counting the ballots. The judges said that they would be counting the ballots according to the way the Election Commission described in the judge’s manual.
* Pollwatcher did not fill out the credentials correctly.
* Pollwatcher was touching election materials.

Above pollwatcher for the Republican Party had a stack of unbound voter applications and was going through them while looking through a voter list. The judges did not stop him from doing it. I told him that he had to stop, that he was violating state statute. He jumped up took his phone and said, “We will see about that.” He made a phone call and came back. He did not continue to touch any election material. He persisted to be overly aggressive to me, when I was talking to the judges about the election, making rude comments. I asked the judges if I was interfering with the election and they said no.

Judges asked me to help look for the voter assistance form. I complied, since I had a judge’s manual available.

Two members from the DuPage County Assistant State's Attorney’s office came and I notified them that the pollwatcher had been touching election materials, also that the Election Commission was not telling the judges to count the cast ballots.

Melisa Urda said...

Pollwatcher: Melisa Urda (Report #7)
Time:: 5:00 PM
Date: 11/02/10
Location: Lace School
________ 7414 Cass Ave.
________ Darien, Il 60561
Poll ID: 271
Township/Precinct: DG 102, 56

Machine Malfunction: 4 PM: Ballots jamming. Technical judge was told by Kris at the Election Commission to keep this quiet. EC said that the ballots were 4” longer than usual, and that's why they were jamming.
Judge said she has never experienced this type of jamming before. She said that she has had elections which had many more ballots cast and has never encountered this problem. She said that the ballots continued to get caught high in the black ballot box.
The judges took the cast ballots from the black ballot box and placed them into a cardboard ballot box. They did not seal the box, and placed it into the blue metal Election Supply Cabinet (ESC) to secure the ballots.
Observations: Very busy locations so I was unable to get a count from the machines.

Melisa Urda said...

Pollwatcher: Melisa Urda (Report #8)
Time:: 5:30-5:45 PM
Date: 11/02/10
Location: Hinsdale South High School
________ 7401 Clarendon Hills
________ Darien, Il 60561
Poll ID: 233
Township/Precinct: Downers Grove 99, 42

Field Representative: Kevin (Rein) came around 6am.
Optical Scan Count: 471 (at 5:45 PM)
Observations: Unsecured location at the high school. The polling place was in a large entrance of the school. There were many people coming in and out that were not participating in the election, but going into the school. This large hallway was dimly lighted.

The judges state that they will follow the procedure for counting the ballots as stipulated by the DuPage County Election Commission manual only.

Melisa Urda said...

Pollwatcher: Melisa Urda (Report #9)
Time:: 6:00-6:25 PM
Date: 11/02/10
Location: Indian Trail Library
________ 401 Plainfield Rd.
________ Darien, Il
Poll ID: 153
Township/Precinct: Downers Grove 57

Field Representative: Kevin (Rein) came around 6:15 AM.
Machine malfunction: Touchscreen (TSx) card reader failure. Somehow a vote was counted, but the screen was not working correctly, and the voter did not vote a full ballot. They tried a new card and the machine worked.
Observation:The judges state that they will follow the procedure for counting the ballots as stipulated by the DuPage County Election Commission manual only.

Neal Resnikoff said...

I was an election judge in 33rd Ward, precinct 16, at the Independence Library on Irving Park Rd...Here are some of the problems that came up, and resolution of a problem that came up in previous election

1. One of the judges who insisted on seeing a government issued ID in previous elections, finally listened to others this time about how the only requirement is a signature that matches the signature on file (unlike in early voting) and she stopped doing that.

2. There was a scanner jam at one point for no clear reason. The tech on duty managed to solve that problem and dropped the ballot into the box.

3. The mailed announcement from the Board of Elections on where to vote was confusing to at least a dozen or more people. Instead of going to their precinct, they came to the place that was listed for early voting. Some missed casting a vote as a result of not being able to get back to their precinct. And, because we were not provided with sufficient information about polling places in adjoining wards, we could not direct some of the people where to go.

4. There was confusion about provisional votes. In one piece of material from the Board of Elections it said generally provisional votes would not be counted. But one judge said, to avoid an argument, encourage anyone without sufficient criteria to cast a regular ballot to make out a provisional ballot.

5. Ballots that are declared void because of some mistake by the voter can easily be viewed when they are handled and marked by a judge, violating the principle of secret ballot.

6. Workers for the committeeman continue to often abuse their position. For example, there was a complaint about blockage of the handicapped parking space. It turned out one of the committeeman workers had his car there. He wouldn't move it. Police were called about the problem, but they came and went without issuing a ticket.

7. There were fewer booths for voters than in previous years, for no obvious reason, resulting in unnecessary waiting for a number of voters.

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