Defend the Vote - Empowering Citizens to Protect Elections



Illinois Election Security Report
2011-2014: Watchdog for election reform in Illinois.

Projects and Accomplishments: 2011-2014

  • Non-Citizens Running Elections: In 2011, our investigations proved some early voting sites in Chicago were being operated by non-citizens. Subsequent follow up FOIA investigations proved that the employment I-9 records for 75% of the employees running Chicago early voting sites were not compliant with federal law, including some of the forms for the alien workers. 
  • Election Board Testimony, 2011 – Present: Defend the Vote regularly testifies and appears before the Chicago Board of Elections and the Illinois State Board of Elections, which has successfully advanced positive change for Illinois’ voting environment. 
  • Early Voting Audit: In 2011, investigations proved Illinois does not audit early voting returns. Our investigations inspired a July 4th, 2011 change in Illinois law: in 2012, for the first time ever, election jurisdictions are required to include early voting machines in the post-election 5% audit. 

Read more: Defend the Vote Celebrates!

This report is from Argonne National Laboratory's Vulnerability Assessment Team. In November 2012, Defend the Vote conducted a 30 day assessment of Chicago and Suburban Cook County elections. Related reports are post under our Investigations Link. Argonne National Laboratory participated as part of Defend the Vote's vulnerability assessment of election security in Illinois.This project has several dimensions too it. 


The following report has general comments, observations, and security suggestions as a result of observing election registration, grace period voting, and vote counting for the general and primary elections in the fall of 2012 by workers for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners (CBEC) and Suburban Cook County Elections (“Suburban”).  This report was recently submitted to us.


Read more: Argonne National Labs: Election Security of the Chicago Board of Elections & Suburban Cook County Elections

Ediors Note: This report is lengthy and worth the read. How does your election jurisdiction keep track of the absentee ballots? Who oversees the process? When exactly are the ballots counted?


You can also download this file as a pdf file. It is a public file and can be shared. We ask that you link back to our website. 


The key to ballot integrity is having a security consciousness reflected throughout the entire process. Our objective was to document the process of intake to tally of the ballots in Chicago and Suburban Cook County. Absentee ballots must be tallied at the main office of the election jurisdiction. Both offices are located (on separate floors) at 69 West Washington Street, Chicago.


Read more: Absentee Voting Report

Defend the Vote's Director, Sharon Meroni recently wrote a report, Election Security: Don't Start with Fraud Investigations, Start with Security Investigations.  The report summarizes developments at the Chicago Board of Elections following the audit in 2011 which discovered widespread security lapses in Chicago's process and procedures.  It also outlines problems discovered with Suburban Cook County elections.  (This report does not contain follow-up from the November 2012 election.  That election update will be out in about two weeks.)


Read more: Argonne National Laboratory Publishes Defend The Vote's Work

Press Release:  October 26th 2011


How difficult is it for the dead to vote in Illinois?  Defend the Vote tested this question in an April 5th audit of Chicago elections. Results were complied into a report.  This report, Vulnerability Assessment and Security Audit of Election Day Polling Place Procedures for the April 5, 2011 Municipal Elections in Chicago, Illinois, by Sharon Meroni, was peer-reviewed and published by the prestigious Journal of Physical Security.  The Journal of Physical Security is published by Argonne National Laboratory’s Vulnerability Assessment Team.



Read more: PUBLISHED!