Illinois and Federal laws protect vulnerable voters who are residents in Illinois nursing homes. Are these laws enforced? Do they accomplish their objective of securing the vote? I began investigating nursing home voting this year. What I am uncovering is worse than even the skeptic thought.
I can prove, without a shred of doubt, Illinois laws protecting nursing home residents are not being enforced in Illinois nursing homes. Literally, thousands of our most vulnerable citizen’s votes are unprotected and could possibly be stolen.
Every nursing home is supposed to have both a Republican and a Democrat election judge when balloting takes place there. If it is a large nursing home, each voting team administrating each vote, by law, MUST consist of a Republican and Democrat election judge. (Illinois Statute)
The nursing home voting legislation is intended to protect the vote of residents in nursing homes. Nursing home voting ensures residents who are unable to travel to polling places can still cast their ballots in elections; the legal requirement is such that bipartisan oversight must be present to make sure nothing funny happens with our most vulnerable voters.
Let me explain just how callous elected Cook County Clerk David Orr is towards the rights of voters under his watchful eye.
With 88 homes under David Orr’s care for the March 2012 Primary Elections, 39 of the nursing homes have single party representation. 11 times there were Republican Judges only, 28 times Democrat Judges Only. In addition, 4 homes had 1 election judge present. (39+4 = 43 homes with single party representation.)
Also, 25 of the 88 homes did not have a 1:1 Rep:Dem nursing home election judge representation. (For example, At Lydia Healthcare with 12 election judges and 200 votes, there was 1 Republican judge to 11 Democrat judges. At Pine Crest Health Care Center, there were 7 election judges for 86 voters. 6 were Democrats, 1 was a Republican.)
According to these facts, a minimum of 68 of the 88 homes (43+25 = 68) were operated unlawfully. This is over 77%!
Further, 2 homes appear without any record of election judges being present. Westminister Plaza is not on the list of approved nursing homes with election judges, but they record 7 nursing home votes cast. The same situation at Church Greek Nursing Center, where no judges are listed as having administered the vote…
This means that the voting rights of citizens in close to 80% of Cook County nursing homes are in jeopardy because of the gross mismanagement of David Orr’s office. This reflects a total disregard for the voting rights of the most vulnerable Illinois citizens![i]
To add to this unbelievable abuse of the nursing home vote, Cook County literally places commissioned Democrat election judges in Republican nursing home election judge positions. They did this about 20 times. I checked the voting record of these Commissioned Democrat judges serving as Republicans. These judges in particular are “Hard D’ which means they never miss pulling a Democratic ballot during the Primary elections. This practice is clearly unlawful.
One way that Orr’s office has been getting away with hiding their unlawful actions is by removing all control of where election judges in Suburban Cook County are placed. They also hide the voting history data from the Republican Party. For weeks now, David Orr has ignored the Republican Party of Cook County’s REPEATED request for information. The Party is now headed to Court to remedy this. Cook County Republican GOP Chairman, Aaron Del Mar has taken a strong stand on securing the nursing home vote!
The question lingers: Is this deliberate action to ignore the law or is it incompetence? On October 2nd, 2012, I asked the Illinois State’s Attorney’s office to investigate to discover the truth.
Madigan’s office told me, they would not throw a single dollar of their resources into protecting the nursing home vote in Illinois, and that I had to be the one to investigate it. Unbelievably, they even complemented me on what great work I was doing as they refused to give me a case number or to take an official complaint. I was stunned. How can Lisa Madigan justify this?
Specifically, on October 2nd when I asked Lisa Madigan’s office to investigate, her Public Integrity Officer, Mary Bucaro, said no. With witnesses there and to my utter disbelief Ms. Bucaro told me three times the following:
1) The State’s Attorney Office will not investigate
2) The State’s Attorney Office will not give me a case number
3) I should ask Cook County elections to investigate themselves on this matter
4) I should work with Cook County to change this practice
I know… Time for the Fed’s!
One problem is, David Orr refuses to even provide a list of nursing homes for the November elections. They LITERALLY are refusing to provide the names of the nursing homes and the judges.
On Monday, court action will likely take place.
We need your help. There is more to this story. We are hitting security at many angles. I personally refuse to step back from this issue until I know each vote is properly secured. Some of our efforts to secure these votes include:
- Our team is using an objective questionnaire during interviews to query nursing home election judges about their experience as a judge from March and November.
- We are working to produce security-based training materials for the judges.
- We are writing a questionnaire for pollwatchers and are looking for about 100 pollwatchers for part day observations (Nov 2-Nov 5) across Cook County and Chicago.
- We ask these pollwatchers to observe every vote and to write their observations on a form. This data will be used for the vulnerability assessment. (Will you help?)
- We will encourage efforts across the entire state to secure the nursing home vote in their area by sharing information and materials. (Will you help?)
- We will send our pollwatching questionnaires to political campaigns seeking to observe nursing home voting. (Help needed)
- In conjunction with Argonne National Laboratory, we are performing a vulnerability assessment of the nursing home vote in Cook County and Chicago. The questionnaires will help to collect data. (Help Needed)
As for Chicago? They are currently completely blocking our access to the nursing home voter data. This weekend we will compile research on how they scored in the March elections. I don’t know how they will score. Chicago talks transparency, but continually blocks access on this issue.
Please help us get the word out. Our teams are sooooooooooooo busy investigating, your help with promotions will surely make a difference!
[i] Our data is all supplied by David’s Orr’s office. I compared the list of all ‘Commissioned Republican Election Judges” with the nursing home judges at each facility, and compared the voting history of each judge assigned.