Election Blog

Smooth going in early voting

Election monitors from the Illinois Ballot Integrity Project reported mostly smooth operations Tuesday.

Bob Wilson, the group's chairman said 19 members were charged with monitoring the performance of approximately 6,000 electronic voting machines across Cook County.

Campaign signs on the ground outside an Uptown precinct. / Photo by Jack Newell
The group monitors for technological and human problems and by midday Tuesday, had little to report, he said.

"We have not had many calls from the city, the calls we've had so far [are from] Suburban Cook County," he said.

John Charles, campaign coordinator for State Sen. Iris Martinez said the office received a few calls about problems at polling places, including one in the 28th precinct on the Northwest Side, where voting equipment was accidentally delivered to the wrong location.

A poll worker came to the Martinez campaign office to report the problem, Charles said.

More than ballots punched on Near West Side

An argument between two election judges at a Near West Side polling place at 600 W. Washington Blvd. ended in arrest Tuesday afternoon, police said.
Chicago Police spokesman John Mirabelli said one of the judges, a woman who was not identified, sustained minor injuries after being punched in the face by Evon McAllister, 27.

McAllister, of the 2800 block of West Jackson Blvd., was charged with one count of battery after the 2 p.m. incident, Mirabelli said.

Mirabelli said he did not know what led to the argument.

--Carrie Topolinski

Early turnout  low in some North Side  precincts

It was a quiet morning and afternoon for poll workers at the 38th Ward's 5700 W. Berteau polling place, located in Luther North High School, where voter turnout was less than expected.

The polling stations for the 11th and 44th precincts had each handled about 90 voters as of 2 p.m. 

Quiet morning in 20th precinct / Photo by Jack Newell
Less than a fourth of the voters were using the new electronic voting system. Judges said the new system takes longer because of voters' lack of familiarity with the technology, especially among older voters.
"A lot of younger people who are tech savvy like to use them," said 44th precinct judge David Nelson.

The 45th Ward's polling place at 4434 N. Laramie, in Our Lady of Victory School, saw slightly heavier traffic. The polling stations for the 25th and 47th precincts each handled about 140 votes by 2 p.m., which was about what was expected.

--Mark Draughn

Extended hours sought for Northwest Side precinct

Chicago Board of Elections spokesman Jim Allen said the board would head to court late Tuesday to file for an extension of voting hours in the 28th precinct on the city's Northwest Side.

Voting was delayed in the precinct Tuesday morning when it was discovered that election equipment had been delivered to the wrong address.

The court appeal will seek to keep the precinct open until 8 p.m.

--Jennifer Slosar

Electronic voting a limited option

Electronic voting didn't pose much of a problem for Chicago voters.

Election board spokesman Jim Allen said there is only one electronic voting machine per precinct.

Voters at precinct 16, Queen of Angels church / Photo by Jane Danielson-Rickard
Anecdotal reports suggest election workers were not reminding voters of this option. "They're available to anyone who wants to use them," said Allen, "but we have to give first priority to people who need a touch screen because of physical disabilities."

Allen also said that, as of 5 p.m., his office had received reports of only .3 percent of electronic voting machines malfunctioning.

That works out to slightly more than six machines, according to the Board of Election Commissioners website, which lists 2,290 precincts in the city.

In the 20th ward, a scanner went down temporarily, but didn't cause any delays, Allen said.

--Jennifer Slosar


MARIE CAMPBELL, 02-06-2008

I was volunteering at 300 West Adams yesterday. I must say, it was a plethora of excitement.

I met one of the food servers. "I served 600 people yesterday, and 300 the day before!" she said. She also made phone calls when phones became available.

There were people and phones ringing everywhere. Some people sat while calling, and some were laying on their backs or on their stomachs.

I met a young man from Grand Rapids, Michigan. He's at a junior college and is majoring in Sociology. His father is in politics where they live. He plans to graduate in two years. He came to Chicago by bus and they all planned to follow the presidential candidate to McCormick Place to hear him speak that nite.

One volunteer wrote on the message board, "I just helped someone lean towards Obama in Idaho!"

I, myself, spoke to one man in Idaho. Before I could say 'hello,' he said, "Of course I'm voting for Obama. Now call somebody else. Thanks for all your hard work!" We both laughed and I thanked him for his support.

Some people were taking naps. Some were waiting for a landline phone to become available. There were others looking for an extra phone charger. Some just sat and looked totally at peace with the commotion that surrounded them.

Vendors were at the elevator entrance selling pins, t-shirts, and other Obama items.

I made over 70 calls. Less than half were made to New Mexico, the rest were in Idaho.

Many peoples' answering machines answered their call. But,the people who I spoke to did say they would vote for Barack. I called a household and a woman answered, "Yes, my husband, myself, and my mom. You've got 3 votes here."

The food arrived on a bi-hourly basis. Everything was served. From pizza, to meatballs with green beans, biscuits, hot cocoa, cookies, candy bars, and the like.

It was a sight to behold.

Marie Campbell

DAN RHOADES, 02-06-2008

Should we be worried that some of the election workers seemed befuddled when it came to merely tearing pieces of paper which had perforations? While voting in the 47th ward polling place at McPherson Elementary Tuesday I was amazed at how quickly a line of 6 people sent the workers into a spiral of torn forms, lost pens, assurances that our votes would be counted, and a long line. While this wasn't the end of the world for a primary, it could be a serious problem during the general election in November.

LAUREN PORTER, 02-06-2008

I think it is an absolute travesty that Pat Dowell was elected not only Alderman, but Committeeman. She has done nothing at the north end of the ward and continues to build upon the previous administrations "urban development". As usual, the promises made during the campaign are fueled by labor backed wheeling and dealing, with the people ultimately suffering.