In the past few years, we've written a number of reports on early voting in Illinois. I am frequently asked is early voting secure...? The answer is - It depends...
Please review these articles as you make your decision as to whether your early vote is secure. Just this year, we were able to compel Chicago to FINALLY secure the electronic cartridges that hold the early vote. Does that make it secure? It only makes it more secure.
Personally, I would only early vote or absentee vote if I had no other choice. Some election jurisdictions are more secure than others.
Stay tuned and join us. More to come in January, 2015!
To follow-up on what happened at the Board meetings on Tuesday October 21st.
Recap: IN 2013, Defend the Vote conducted a FOIA investigation of how the Chicago Board of Elections secures the early voted ballots (both the paper copy printed by the machine and the USB memory device which saves the record of the vote). This FOIA proved that there was no verified chain of custody, literally! The ballots were moved from the early voting sites to the CBEC without anyone assuring that they were locked and sealed before leaving the early voting site, during transport to CBEC offices at 69 West Washington, or once arriving at the CBEC offices. We presented our results to the Chicago Board of Elections and were promised on multiple occasions that new procedures to secure the vote would be put in place. Each time we requested a copy of these new procedures we were told to wait... they were coming. Finally, unable to wait any longer, we appealed to the Illinois State Board of Elections right before their October 21st Board meeting to assure the early voted ballots in Chicago are secured.
On Tuesday afternoon, there were two Board meetings; the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners (CBEC) and the Illinois State Board of Elections (ISBE). Both took place during the same time frame. Logistically, there was a small chance I could make it to both, but I had to go to the ISBE meeting, first. On the agenda was the HAVA complaint filed in late August. During this Board meeting, the ISBE and I agreed to work to set up an "alternative dispute resolution" process and are currently looking for the correct legal group to serve in the role of assisting to resolve the HAVA complaint.
The letter I sent to the Illinois State Board of Elections is in this article: Loosy Goosy Security on the EV Voted Ballots.
On Tuesday, right before I spoke, the ISBE approved Ken Menzel as the new General Counsel to replace Steve Sandvoss, who is now the Executive Director. General Counsel Menzel's first job following his appointment was literally to run to the Chicago Board meeting (which was still in session across the street) and to have them provide evidence that the early voted ballots are secured. Many of the ISBE Board members displayed concern and wanted immediate answers!
Editor's note: HUGE SUCCESS! Following a couple of interesting Board meetings, Chicago has completely revamped their procedures. We will update this post with the new rules.
Sent: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 9:21 AM
Cc: Steve Sandvoss; 'Joan T. Agnew'; 'James Scanlon'; 'Mr. Lance Gough'; 'Borgsmiller, Rupert'; 'Jesse Smart'; 'Charles W. Scholz'; 'Menzel, Ken'
Subject: Loosy Goosy Security on the EV Voted Ballots in Chicago
Good Morning Chairman and Commissioners:
I intend to lodge a formal complaint with the Illinois State Board of Elections today regarding the following:
Defend the Vote found and reported to the Chicago Board of Elections about serious irregularities in how this Board maintained custody of the early voting VVAPT scrolls and the memory devices that hold the electronic ballot. On July 26th Lance Gough said at the Board meeting these serious deficiencies had been corrected. He said he would send the revised procedures to the Board and to me. Silence ensued.
Following the last Board meeting, I specifically approached Chairman Neal to inform him I have not received any updates on these alleged “New Procedures”. Again, silence.
The protection of the voted ballot is mandated in Illinois Law. This Board has a duty to secure the voted ballot and to have transparent procedures on how it does so. To date, to my knowledge, this Board fails on both duties.
Director of Defend the Vote
Is your early vote secure? For the first time in early voting history in Illinois, election authorities are required to audit the early voting machines. What does this exactly mean for your vote?
Fall is a favorite time of year for many of us living in Illinois. The maple tree in my front yard is just brilliantly red – Awesome to behold!I love the aromas that filter upwards as I walk into the dying leaves.It is a beautiful day to experience the joy of creation!Yet despite this beauty, my mind cannot escape this troubling feeling of urgency…
Elections Security… Is there any?
EARLY VOTING ALERT:
The following information SHOULD shock you, regardless if you are from Illinois or any of the other states that offer Early Voting.
At this time we would like to focus your attention on the article labled Early Voting Alert.It is the Investigative Focus for this week.
The question Defend the Vote asks you to consider:
What do you know about security protocols around early voting in your state?
In Illinois, 18% of the vote is never reconciled for accuracy.
This letter is posted on the Chicago GOP website
Chicago Board of Election Commissioners
69 West Washington St., Suite 600
Chicago IL 60602
Attn: Langdon Neal, Chairman
Richard Cowen, Commissioner
Mariel Hernanez, Commissioner
Beginning in 2010, the Chicago Republican Party, working with other groups, has been investigating election procedures in Chicago with the intent to review, and where indicated seek to improve, ballot integrity. Please accept this letter as a statement of concern over the current procedures of Early Voting in Chicago elections.
Update: As a result of this investigation, Chicago added election judges to all early voting sites beginning in 2012.
Results from an ongoing investigation reveal that the City of Chicago uses non-citizens to supervise and operate some of Chicago’s early voting polling places. Investigations uncovered at least 6 non-citizens supervising or working at early voting sites. Investigators also found that 65 different employees, or 1 out of 4 workers at early voting sites, administrated elections without declaring their eligibility to work on federal I-9 forms. (The I-9 is the mandated Federal Employee Eligibility Verification form.) These workers have the authority of an election judge at the early voting polls.