Few voters, start of polls delayed


Poll workers who arrived late and no-shows delayed the start of primary elections on Tuesday, forcing some polling stations to stay open later despite relatively low turnout.

The delays were deemed severe enough that the Cook County Clerk’s Office sought a court order Tuesday afternoon that kept some enclosures open an hour later at Kennedy School in Chicago Heights, Golf Middle School in Morton Grove , at Our Lady of Mount Carmel School in Melrose Park. , Roosevelt School in Broadview and Douglas MacArthur School in Hoffman Estates.

Six precincts that opened late this morning remained open until 8 p.m., which is expected to delay the release of results from the clerk, the clerk’s office said. The remaining 1,424 precincts in suburban Cook County closed at 7 p.m.

The Chicago board of elections found 56 delayed openings at precinct polling places, agency spokesman Max Bever said. But he said election investigators had not found enough evidence of the problems necessary to ask a court to keep any of them open beyond 7 p.m.

The Suburban Neighborhoods Court’s intervention came after a morning in which some places in the city and suburbs struggled to open on time due to a shortage of workers.

At Kelvyn Park High School in Hermosa, two of the four precincts had to turn away voters in the afternoon. One was Jenny Morales, a 46-year-old shift manager, who was told by an election official that she would have to go to an early voting site to vote because election judges in her constituency failed to show up.

“I feel angry and I feel frustrated,” she said, adding that she had no plans to go to the early voting site nearly two miles away. “You’re not going to drag me back and forth. It’s ridiculous.”

Elections coordinator Alison Chambliss said when she arrived before the polls opened at 6 a.m., they only had enough staff to accept voters from two constituencies. She said in nearly 20 years of working at polling stations, staffing issues stood out on Tuesday.

“He’s one of the worst in terms of judging,” she said. “There has always been a body.

Polling stations in Humboldt Park also had problems. At 8:30 a.m., State Rep. Delia Ramirez, a Democrat running in the 3rd congressional district, was one of two voters who showed up at her polling place at Harriet Beecher Stowe School. , which opened with two of the four election officials. yet to come.

Ramirez said that while she was on her way to vote, she saw volunteers outside the Yates Elementary School voting site with no voting booth open at 6:45 a.m.

“Unfortunately Lillian and I have spoken to a number of voters who have said, ‘I’m sorry, I’ve been waiting, I have to get to work,'” Ramirez, who spoke to reporters alongside of Lillian Jiménez, who is running to replace Ramirez’s seat at Illinois House.

“We have people who absolutely understand the importance of voting, especially when you see what’s happening in the country, and they won’t be able to vote,” Ramirez said.

A school poll worker later told the Tribune that although they opened on time, they were understaffed with half the number of judges as usual. Between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m., there were 137 voters in three constituencies on site, the worker said.

Michele Ryba of Archer Heights said she showed up at her polling place at Edwards Elementary School at 8:45 a.m. to find she couldn’t vote because no election judge showed up. Several people trying to vote were turned away, she said.

Ryba, who works as a marketing manager in the hospitality industry, ended up voting at Archer Heights Library, an early voting location.

“At least I got to vote,” she wrote in an email to the Tribune. “I wonder how many people were turned away because the election judges didn’t show up and voters weren’t directed to another polling station.”

Some sites opened later because of judges who resigned in recent days, including some who resigned at 5 a.m. and 6 a.m., Bever said.

Another challenge, Bever said, may have been that 48 precinct polling stations were left vacant, by court order, after difficulties lining up polling stations for Tuesday, ranging from summer availability to scheduling issues. ‘accessibility. It affected nearly 60,000 Chicago voters, who received letters and emails telling them how to vote on Tuesday.

As of 7 p.m. Tuesday, the total number of ballots cast in Chicago was 299,460, counting those cast early, by mail and at the polls, but not counting mail-in ballots that have not yet been received by election officials. The vote count represented 20% of registered voters. That’s less than four of the last five primary elections, which ranged from 16.5% turnout in March 2014 to 53.5% in March 2016. The last gubernatorial primary, in March 2018, saw a turnout of 32.7% of Chicago voters.

Turnout increased steadily throughout the day with most people voting around 5 pm A total of 163,360 ballots were cast on election day in the city from 7 pm, with the highest number of votes cast among people aged 65 to 74, Bever said.

Election officials, wary of falling turnout, had urged voters to vote early by mail, before leaving town for the July 4 holiday weekend. In addition to falling on a non-presidential election year, the date of the primaries is exceptionally late. The election was moved from its usual March date because the 2020 U.S. Census Bureau numbers needed for redistricting were late, making it the last Illinois to hold a primary since at least the Great Depression.

While in-person early voting lagged behind last midterm, more people voted by mail than during the 2018 midterm.

Statewide, 460,114 votes had been cast in advance or by mail as of 11 a.m. Tuesday, up from 449,749 in 2018, according to Matt Dietrich, spokesman for the Illinois State Board of Elections. This includes 171,556 mail-in ballots returned so far, compared to 96,875 mail-in ballots in 2018.

As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, another 166,859 mail-in ballots had not been returned, Dietrich said.

In Chicago, 115,545 ballots had been cast by early voting or mail-in voting as of the close of early voting Monday night, Bever said. By comparison, a total of 129,509 ballots were cast the day before the 2018 midterm primary, Bever said.

While the number of early votes was lower overall in Chicago, more than twice as many ballots were returned by mail before the election compared to 2018, mirroring the trend seen across the state. As of Monday, 51,078 ballots had been returned by mail, up from 20,228 a day before the 2018 election, Bever said.

As of Monday, another 73,801 mail-in ballots had yet to be returned to Chicago. Tuesday was the last day a mail-in ballot could be stamped to be counted. Any ballots postmarked after June 28 will not be counted and ballots must be received by local election officials by July 12.

More than 160 teams of assistant attorneys general and investigators from the Illinois attorney general’s office were monitoring the elections across Illinois for potential problems, according to a news release. Voters who suspect inappropriate or illegal activity can call 866-536-3496 in Chicago and northern Illinois, or 866-559-6812 in central and southern Illinois.


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