Too Many Spoiled Ballots?

There've been a handful of comments and emails about high rates of ballot disqualifications and other mishaps (sleeping election judges, etc.) at some schools following last week's LSC elections.

Here's an email about the disqualification of ballots that CPS is apparently enforcing -- I'll let you know if and when I get a response from CPS:

"I'm a parent at Mayer Magnet School, 2250 N. Clifton Ave, and was an LSC candidate there (I lost, by a lot, but we had 18 parents running). Are any journalists reporting on the number of spoiled ballots?

"Several parents said their were 35 spoiled ballots out of 325 cast, or nearly 11%. Compared to spoilage rates at the  county-level in general elections, this is high. However, when I called the CPS's Local School Council Office to ask to see the ballots (request pending with the director), I was told that the rate was low; that many schools had turn-out around 100 but with @40 spoiled ballots.

"The problem is that voters put check-marks in the boxes by candidates names or filled in the box rather than making a cross mark (X). While the Illinois Election Code indeed specifies that cross marks be made in the boxes on paper ballots,  (10 ILCS 5/17-11) and that position was upheld by the state supreme court in state elections, the same code expressly excludes Local School Council elections from the code (10 ILCS 5):

Sec. 2A-1. All Elections - Governed by this Code - Construction of Article 2A. 
    (a) No public question may be submitted to any voters in this State, nor may any person be nominated for public office or elected to public or political party office in this State except pursuant to this Code, notwithstanding the provisions of any other statute or municipal charter. However, this Code shall not apply to elections for officers or public questions of local school councils established pursuant to Chapter 34 of the School Code, soil and water conservation districts or drainage districts, except as specifically made applicable by another statute. 

"Therefore, state supreme court's  Pullen v. Mulligan (1990) should govern election judge's reviews, and voter intent should be the standard (check marks, circling the name, writing Yes next it), CPS, it would appear, is improperly invalidating ballots."

Is this happening at any other schools that you know about, and is CPS taking the same approach?

 

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  • from CPS:

    "Rules related to casting valid votes:
    LSC election rules require voters to draw two lines that must intersect in the box next to a candidate's name to cast a valid vote.
    If the judges cannot see two lines crossing in the box, they are instructed that the vote is not valid and not to be counted.
    · The rule excludes any other kind of mark, including checkmarks, from being considered as valid votes.

    Rules related to the classification of ballots as "spoiled":
    · LSC election rules require that all votes cast on "spoiled ballots" be rejected and classified as "spoiled" on the actual ballots as a result of the following reasons:

    o Ballots with no judges' initials on the back of the ballot

    o Ballots with no valid votes cast on the ballot

    o Ballots with more than the allowed number of valid votes on the ballot (five in the parent/community election and two in the school staff poll);

    A ballot can be considered "spoiled" for any of the above-stated reasons, not just because it bears invalid votes."

    make sense?

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