According to Illinois election laws, every polling place must have a 1:2 or a 2:3 ratio of election judges from the two dominant political parties. The dominant party receives the majority of election judge placements in these ratios. The number of judges in the ratio varies based on the type of election. The laws further require that at least half of these judges must live in the precinct where they are assigned. Defend the Vote has been working to assure every vote in Illinois is secured with bi-partisan oversight over the voting process. In Chicago, under the Chicago Board of Elections Commissioners or the CBOE, there are literally hundreds of precincts where there is only one party (the Democrat Party) assigned to protect the vote.
Shockingly, this discriminatory assignment of election judges appears to be focused in the minority wards in Chicago.
Both political parties are tasked with locating and assigning their judges, and judges are assigned on ‘certified lists.’ There are two lists that election jurisdictions must refer to; the Chairman’s List and the Chairman's Supplemental List.
All Illinois election boards are legally obligated and required to place the judges as assigned by the two political parties first. If there are no judges assigned by the political parties, they can recruit judges from over the counter applicants. The laws prohibit the election boards from placing Democrat Party voters into Republican Party positions and vice versa. Political party affiliation is generally, but not exclusively, determined by which ballot was selected during the last primary election.
After appointment, all Judges of Elections are commissioned by a judge from the county court. Commissioned election judges hold a legal commission to serve for 2 years.
The laws also require the election jurisdictions to inform the Party when they discipline (i.e. remove) their election judges, and they need to inform the political parties about the training of their election judges to assure there are trained judges from both parties in every precinct.
The Cook County Republican Party Chairman Aaron Del Mar has filed a formal complaint with the Chicago Board of Elections and the Illinois State Board of Elections, alleging that the Board is willfully refusing to place Republican-assigned election judges in the minority wards of Chicago. Chairman Del Mar states:
“The attached document illustrates the dismal results of the Chicago Board of Elections’ (referred to as the Board) efforts at placing Republican Judges of Election that were submitted as part of the Republican Chairman’s Lists. The vast majority of these applications were submitted twice, all marked with the Chairman’s stamp to certify each election judge’s placement on the Chairman’s Lists. The Board has consistently refused to place Republican election judges from the Chairman’s Lists as required by Illinois law. This systemic neglect has resulted in hundreds of precincts being under-represented or going entirely without Republican oversight of the integrity of the vote in Chicago, especially during the November 2014 and February 2015 election cycles.
When The Board neglects to ensure the placement of Judges of Election that have been duly placed on the Republican Chairman’s Lists, then the Commissioners and the Board are working against Illinois laws and against the best interest of the voters.
The Cook County Republican Party Chairman has a duty to assign Republican Judges of Election in Cook County, including Chicago. Illinois Election Code, Sec 14(3.1) and related statutes, are specific: the Board must exhaust all the “Chairman’s Lists” before sourcing for election judges from other sources. The “Chairman’s Lists” refers to both the Chairman’s List and the Chairman’s Supplemental List. The Board has failed to hire from the Republican Chairman’s Lists for the last several elections. The Board is in direct violation of Illinois Election Code when they place Democrat voting election judges into Republican positions when there is widespread availability of certified Republican election judges on the Chairman’s Lists.”
The document Chairman Del Mar is referring to is an assessment written by Sharon Meroni, Executive Director of Defend the Vote. Besides her work at DTV, Ms. Meroni is a volunteer coordinator for the election judge program for the Cook County Republican Party. The research for this assessment was completed by Black Republicans who live in minority wards of Chicago. They’re upset that the hard work they do to recruit Judges of Elections results in the Chicago Board ignoring and refusing to place assigned Republican judges from their neighborhoods. On multiple occasions they have appeared before the CBOE to complain. Without any relief from the Board, this problem has been going on for multiple elections.
The Assessment documents 95% of over 2000 Republican-assigned judges were never contacted to serve for the November 2014, February 2015, or April 2015 elections. Instead, the Chicago Board of Elections secretly selects over the counter applicants.
Since February 2015, the Board has refused to provide any data to the Republican Party Chairman about any of the election judges.
The assessment states:
“Overview: In September and early October of 2014, the Cook County Republican Election Judge Program submitted over 2000 Republican Judges of Elections for placement in Chicago. Despite at least 1000 vacancies and our repeated requests, these judges were not placed before the November elections. Investigations in January 2015 proved that the Chicago Board of Elections failed to place or even contact at least 95% of these 2000 Republican appointed elections judges. In addition, we have documented multiple reports that Republican judges in the minority wards were not sent cards to re-enroll to serve out their 2 year commission in the subsequent elections. Also, we have received multiple reports from Republican appointed election judges who did not receive their 'notification to serve' letters until 24-48 hours before the elections. This made it difficult for many of these judges when they were told of their assignments to serve at the last minute. Widespread shortages of election judges resulted from the Chicago Board of Elections systematically ignoring thousands of Republican election judge appointments. This is especially true in the minority wards of Chicago.
Assertions: The CBOE (Chicago Board of Elections) randomly and without notice to the Cook County Republican Party, moves Republican election judges or entirely ignores their placement. The vast majority of the movements in these sections were done despite the availability of Republican appointed election judges. Further, the Board routinely appoints OTC (over the counter) election judges months after Republican appointed election judges were available and assigned on the Chairman's List. The Board has refused to provide updated lists of election judge assignments to the Cook County Republican Party. The Board is not following Illinois Law and the result of their actions are that hundreds of precincts do not have bi-partisan oversight over the vote. These precincts are primarily in the minority wards. Furthermore, the CBOE has not sent letters to many Republican Commissioned judges in the minority wards to assure their assignments to all of the elections during their 2 year court appointed commission period. When letters to affirm enrollment in subsequent elections are not sent to the Republican judges, it effectively ends the Judge of Election's commission as assigned by the Cook County Court. This removes hundreds of judges from their commission without notice to the Cook County Republican Party or to the Cook County Court who has commissioned the election judge for a 2 year period. This is against Illinois laws which requires the Board to notify the Chairman of any disciplinary actions taken against GOP election judges. “
When Republican Judges of Elections are not assigned by the Chicago Board of Elections in the minority wards, it demonstrates overt and unlawful discrimination by the Board and jeopardizes the integrity of the vote in those communities.
Why is the Chicago Board of Elections refusing to respond to the Chairman’s demands that they stop discriminating against voters who live in the minority wards of Chicago?
More to follow.