Polling Place Issues

Voting rights issues at the polling place are easy to spot, especially on Election Day. After all, it’s not hard to notice when a polling place closes unexpectedly. While many people experience a smooth voting process at their polling place, they are unaware of the serious problems affecting other sites throughout Illinois. In 2016, Illinois voters reported more polling place issues than any other problem on Election Day. 

Issues we observed along the way

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Significant Polling Place Issues

Inquiries about the polling place

362 total issues

Why does this matter?

Not all the phone calls we received on our hotline were reporting problems. One of the largest group of callers needed information about their local polling place or where to use Election Day Registration (EDR).

Real Stories (1/2)

They went to the polling place listed and there was a sign that said “no Dupage County ballots.” No one spoke with an election official there. They turned around and left because the line was long. Gave her another early voting center to go to and told her we would call the county to ensure that ballots get sent to this location. Thinks the problem was at the Fox Valley Center. Left a message with the IL Board of Elections to handle the problem and ensure that each polling place was supplied with ballots for all appropriate counties.

Real Stories (2/2)

Wanted to know where to vote in IL and if registered. He seemed not to be registered, but looked up his polling place, which has same-day registration. Gave him information on ID for registration and the phone number for the polling place for him to call to confirm.

A look at the data

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Need to be redirected to a new polling place

22 total issues

Why does this matter?

Due in part to the fact that polling precincts and locations can change less than 48 hours before Election Day, last minute changes often confuse voters about their proper polling place. Even when voters know about these changes, voters with disabilities may experience unforeseen problems due to the inaccessibility of their new polling places.

Real Stories (1/2)

Went to polling place. The workers there directed people to look at map because of a precinct change. After waiting in a long line, she was told to go to a different place. She went there and was told that she was in the wrong place. They refused to let her vote…She’s late to work and now will not be able to vote at all… Even though she had her registration card, they still sent her to the wrong place. She has 3 small children and can’t get off work and go back. There’s a map on the wall of the first polling place that identifies the precincts, but the map is wrong, according to both her registration card as well as the second polling place.

Real Stories (2/2)

An Illinois resident temporarily in Texas [had] questions about voting in Illinois in different precinct. Gave information about voting in different Illinois precinct than where registered.

A look at the data

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Unexpectedly closed polling place

10 total issues

Why does this matter?

Voters may have set a specific time on their personal schedule to vote on Election Day so that they can also meet work, family, and other obligations. When polling places do not open on time, voters may not have time to return to vote later in the day.

Real Stories (1/2)

Went to the polling location of Plainfield Township Bldg 1611 and the location was closed. Need to verify if there is an alternate place.

Real Stories (2/2)

Did not get to vote because 6:00 AM the poll was [not open] yet. Waited until 6:35 AM, but had to leave to vote. Poll workers were inside but did not come out and tell anyone why they could not go in to vote.

A look at the data

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Electioneering

13 total reports

Why does this matter?

The law requires candidates and campaign workers to stay at least 100 feet away from the entrance to a polling place. Electioneering, the act of trying to secure votes in or near a polling place, can cause voters to feel uncomfortable, pressured, and even intimidated before casting a ballot. Voters may be deterred to vote in the present election and in future elections based on voter intimidation.

Real Stories (1/2)

There are two gentlemen who claim to be outside the 100-foot radius and they are campaigning for three judges but they were not outside that radius…I told someone but they did not seem concerned. [The men] were trying to catch as many people as they could. They were just campaigning and using postcards… They were moving around and at some points they looked like they were outside the 100 feet but when they were going to approach people it looked like they were within.

Real Stories (2/2)

Did not have a problem voting, but there was a man wearing a Trump t-shirt standing in the doorway of the room with the voting. Woman told him he could not come in, but he kept standing in the entrance way. The man was still there but he did leave eventually.

A look at the data

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Polling place operational issues and incorrect voting procedures

45 total issues

Why does this matter?

Poll workers run the operations of polling places. A poll worker’s tasks include administering Election Day Registration (EDR), distributing ballots to voters with confirmed registration, and providing voters with instructions on how to complete and submit their ballots. When poll workers do not adhere to the procedures provided by law–intentionally or unintentionally– the poll worker may cause the voter to feel confused, intimidated, or disenfranchised. The lack of poll workers at polling sites can also cause increased wait times, which can prevent people with fixed schedules from voting.

Real Stories (1/2)

She just wanted to let us know that a polling place in Chicago was over their heads in terms of logistics. It took 35 minutes for the first voter of the morning to finish. The judges didn’t know where to initial. They were taking ballots out of privacy sleeves to scan them (when they don’t have to) and exposing everyone’s votes to others in the area.

Real Stories (2/2)

Brought in correct forms of identification. Polling place worker seemed to be mis-informed and to be asking for the incorrect forms of identification. Asked for a photo ID that showed age. Voter was able to successfully register to vote.

A look at the data

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Missing voting equipment, malfunctions and delays

50 total reports

Why does this matter?

Properly running voting equipment at polling places creates a secure voting environment. With malfunctions and missing equipment, some voters feel less confident about our election process. Additionally, longer wait times can prevent voters from casting a ballot.

Real Stories (1/2)

Electronic voting will not allow voter to review the first page of the ballot. She is being told that the ballot was cast, but cannot tell and is unable to review the first page. Many people now looking at the ballot and caller is worried that her vote is not being counted. When the paper printed out it said “voided” but she is told the vote has cast. Voter gone but concerned that the machine is not working for anyone.

Real Stories (2/2)

While voting today, they didn’t have cardboard covers for ballots so others could see ballot when inserting into the machine. They said they weren’t supplied with them. Judge was looking at ballots. Said others reported the same. He saw a large of cardboard covers in another room.

A look at the data

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