Addendum: Chicago Mayoral Election Judge

votingA few weeks ago, I wrote about serving as election judge in the February primary. As a first-time judge, I had some questions and observations, and was fortunate to discuss these matters via e-mail with Jim Allen at the Board of Elections. With a Chicago mayoral election just a few weeks away, I thought this might be a good opportunity to provide clarification to my earlier piece….and to hopefully encourage readers to serve as judges on April 7th.

First is the issue of touchscreens – two weeks ago, I had mentioned that I thought that there were too few touchscreens used in the precinct I served:

In this precinct, we had one touchscreen voting machine with eight “regular” voting booths. (Ironically, when I went for absentee voting, there were numerous touchscreen voting machines). Since I do not have any data on how many machines are currently in use, I wonder how those machines are assigned…

However, as Jim explained, the use of touchscreens in early voting and election day voting serves a very specific purpose:

During Early Voting, we must use the touchscreens exclusively, because that’s the only way to offer every ballot style for every ward and every language, no matter where the voter is from. There are no paper ballots or scanners used at Early Voting. Then on Election Day, there are 2,069 precincts, and we only have enough touch screens to supply one per precinct so that at least one is available to voters of different physical abilities, language needs, or those who need audio ballots.C Now - Networking 02

In that previous post, I had also mentioned that

Perhaps election judge training should not be optional When I started the process, I had been informed that there is an “optional” four-hour training for judges, and which I was eager to attend. (My only reason for not doing so – I was not provided any information about a Monday training). Although I’m used to learning on the go….perhaps Chicago elections should warrant having people work at their best. (If that meant that I didn’t serve this time around, it would not bother me either way). Having a mandatory training – even online – would make things much easier, and more importantly, provide an extra layer of accountability.

This definitely warrants a correction, for as Jim explained:

Training is indeed mandatory. However, if there are resignations or other urgent needs to fill vacancies in precincts, there may be no time to train the person filling the vacancy. We urge every election judge to attend the mandatory training and pay them to do so. If they cannot or do not attend, we do not remove them, given that elections judges, as they’ve already been confirmed as election judges by the Court.

First, I want to thank Jim for reaching out to me, and for granting me permission to quote his e-mail in this post. Several assumptions I had  entering this experience proved to be faulty. As a blogger, my responsibility is to express my opinion, and when my information is faulty, to provide clarification….and in this matter, it is extremely crucial.

To put it bluntly, many voters will have the opportunity to change the status quo with the April 7th elections. No matter what your political affiliation or ideology, it is important to connect with the political process and insure that everyone who can vote should participate in the process. I’ll be working elections on April 7th (meaning – I’ll be voting early) because it means a definite opportunity for  insure that everyone’s vote matters, and that the process is fair and even-minded. If you’re interested in serving as election judge (especially since some precincts need judges), please consider submitting an application. It’s an entire day’s work….but it’s one of the small ways that Chicago residents can make a big impact.

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