On November 19th, 2012, Defend the Vote’s Sharon Meroni testified at the Illinois State Board of Elections board meeting. As part of her testimony, Sharon gave the Board members a letter outlining Defend the Vote’s findings from the recent November election; not all of it good, but she felt it was important to alert the election Board of the security oversights going on in their jurisdiction.
The Board’s response is lengthy and policy changing. We will cover it in segments, beginning with a glimpse into election problems with Chicago.
In her letter, Sharon pointed out three key issues with the way Chicago runs their elections: absentee ballots were not being legally authenticated, nor are they stored sufficiently, and both Suburban Cook County and Chicago are tabulating their ballots before 7pm on Election Day. The government’s response in some cases was astoundingly fast, but in others… Not so much. As always, it falls to the people to get the job truly done.
When new absentee ballot applications came into 69 W Washington, election workers would compare the signatures on the applications to the voter’s registration record. So far, so good… But when the completed absentee ballots were received, the election workers compared those signatures to the absentee ballot application; not to the registration record, as required by law. Through this error, they were bypassing an important security checkpoint against voter fraud and making the elections legally questionable: should a ballot with the wrong signature slip through the cracks during the application process, there would have been no way for anyone to catch it if election workers continued comparing signatures on the absentee ballot to signatures on the application.
Thankfully, Chicago agreed that this was a big issue. They changed their faulty procedures on the same day we raised the issue, and re-authenticated every absentee ballot for the November 2012 election at our request. Now that’s what I call getting your government to work for you!
But Defend the Vote’s mission to clean up absentee voting in Illinois isn’t always so easy. Our findings also pointed at Chicago’s absentee ballots not being sufficiently stored; more specifically, election workers are using the same piece of duct tape to re-seal absentee ballot boxes when they’re finished with them. I know that duct tape can hold anything together, but even it loses its stickiness when re-applied… So what’s keeping the boxes filled with your absentee ballots secure?
That’s right. Absolutely nothing, and nothing is being done to change that. The Illinois State Board of Election’s response to this complaint was downright alarming: “Article 19 of the Election Code, which governs absentee balloting, does not set forth specifics as to precisely how voted absentee ballots are to be stored after they are returned and are in the possession of the election authority.” Are you aware that the Illinois Election Code doesn’t specify how your absentee ballots are stored? More and more people are voting by absentee ballot every election, yet the Illinois Board of Elections is doing nothing to fix their sloppy oversight.
Additionally, Defend the Vote alerted the Board that Suburban Cook County and Chicago are tabulating ballots prior to 7pm on Election Day. This is a very serious charge with devastating political impact should either Party receive preliminary voting results. Though they deny tabulating the ballots before the end of an election, electronic sessions produce a total when they are closed out of. We will discuss more about this in the following article, “The Problems with Suburban Cook County”.
Voting in Illinois may not be perfect, but we’re getting there. Join Defend the Vote on our journey to clean up election security in the state that is infamous for having the most corrupt elections in the US, and rest assured that your vote will really count come Election Day!