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General, you made this mess, now clarify it

Monday, Oct 27, 2014 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From a press release…

The Illinois Republican Party sent a critical “voter fraud alert” robocall this afternoon to Republican voters and election judges, asking for heightened vigilance following a rash of questionable issues at polling locations, including Republican voters watching in shock as their voting machines changed their votes from “Republican” to “Democrat.”

“This election is far too important for anything less than 100 percent transparency and 100 percent fairness. Not a single exception will be tolerated,” said Tim Schneider, Chairman of the Illinois Republican Party. “The people of Illinois are demanding a change from the failures of Pat Quinn and the Democrats in charge; we deserve nothing less than a clean and fair election.”

Voters are asked to immediately report any suspicious activity by calling or emailing

The ILGOP takes every report seriously, and is pursuing legal action where required.

Issues in the first week of early voting have included:

    Schaumburg, IL: On Monday, Jim Moynihan, GOP candidate for State House, tried to vote for himself and saw the voting machine try to record his vote for his opponent instead. Election officials blamed a mysterious “calibration error.” Several similar errors were reported around the state.

    Rockford, IL: On Tuesday, early voting in Rockford was suddenly shut down for hours because of two separate ballot issues.

    Rock Island, IL: Congressional Candidate Bobby Schilling reported as many as 20 instances of voting machines changing Republican votes to Democrat, prompting a complaint to the Board of Elections. In the same county, Republicans were forced to take legal action to ensure full transparency and openness for poll watchers.

    Danville, IL: Officials illegally began processing absentee votes last week, contrary to election law and a specific advisory from Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Robocall text:

“Hello this is Tim Schneider, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party. I’m calling Republicans today with an important voter fraud alert. Across Illinois, we are getting daily reports of Democrats trying to help Pat Quinn steal the vote so he can stay in office. In some places, when you try to vote Republican, your vote automatically switches to Democrat. It’s outrageous. And I need your help to stop it. When you go to vote — during early voting this week or on Election Day next Tuesday, November 4th — keep an eye out for possible voter fraud. If you see something, say something. Call our voter fraud hotline at 312-201-9000. Again, that’s 312-201-9000. Thank you and this call was paid for by the Illinois Republican Party.”

Man, talk about over-blown. It looks like they’re setting up a “Fraud at Polls!” argument if Rauner loses a close one.

* We’ve talked about the one-off problem in Schaumburg already. It’s really a non-issue. No votes were actually tabulated the wrong way. We discussed Rockford as well. It was a ballot printing error that caused the delay in early voting.

The Rock Island situation is different because Bobby Schilling is claiming 20 complaints. He’s known for being a bit of an exaggerator, however, so I’m wondering if any of those complaints have been officially filed with the proper authorities. RICO obviously needs to get its calibrations in order, but, again, I seriously doubt that any votes were actually cast the wrong way.

* And that brings us to the Danville case

Danville election officials opened and processed a number of absentee ballots more than a week before the election, which local Republicans are calling a violation of state law and a threat to the fairness of the process.

Barbara Dreher, director of the Danville Election Commission, said this morning that her office has already put some absentee ballots through the tabulator, an electronic machine that processes the paper ballots. She said she knew it was a violation of a state statute, but absentee ballots were piling up in auxiliary bins in her office, in the Vermilion County Courthouse Annex in downtown Danville.

Putting them through the tabulator opened up space, she said.

Let’s be clear here: This is the way just about all county clerks did things for years. It’s not some new, nefarious plot. Only now that Attorney General Lisa Madigan decided that putting absentee ballots into the tabulator before an election somehow violates a state law passed nine years ago has this become an issue.

Yes, the county clerk election commission was stupid. And, yes, the Republicans will likely try to get those votes thrown out - and since the Democrats have sunk millions into their early voting effort, the GOP knows who will be hurt more.

* I’ve been trying to get some clarification out of Madigan’s office for days about this topic

Election results in DuPage County could take a day longer than usual for the Election Commission to tabulate after Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s recent opinion on the counting process.

Madigan’s statement, issued Oct. 15, said that ballots collected through early voting and absentee balloting cannot be counted before election polls close at 7 p.m. Nov. 4.

Specifically, the opinion said that running the ballots through tabulating equipment is a form of counting.

Joseph Sobecki, the DuPage commission’s assistant executive director, said waiting until 7 p.m. on election day will definitely impede how quickly they can report results.

“Most likely it would be pushed back about a day,” Sobecki said.

* More

Madigan, a Democrat, issued an opinion last week in response to some “procedural issues” about vote tabulation, spokeswoman Natalie Bauer said. The opinion says state law is clear that no vote-counting should start until 7 p.m. That includes running mail-in and early votes through equipment to prepare them for vote-recording, a process which, Madigan said, “clearly constitutes ‘counting’ as that term is ordinarily understood.”

James Allen, spokesman for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, which oversees nearly 1.4 million voters, said prohibiting any activity until close of polls would mean the state’s three-largest jurisdictions – Chicago, suburban Cook County, and suburban DuPage County – “would be delayed by multiple, multiple hours before reporting even one vote.”

Allen said the board is seeking clarification from the attorney general on whether its traditional system will suffice. A machine processes and sorts the ballots and puts the results in an encrypted file that can only be ready when linked to accompanying software – something the office doesn’t do until after polls close.


  1. - Law Dude - Monday, Oct 27, 14 @ 3:50 pm:

    For clarification, the N-G story was regarding the Danville Election Commission. The Vermilion County Clerk (who administers elections outside the city of Danville in Vermilion County) was quoted (in the print edition, not on-line) as saying she is not counting absentee ballots until 7pm on election day.

  2. - 2 Cents... - Monday, Oct 27, 14 @ 3:53 pm:

    So this is how they’re using the alleged million dollars to work their alleged voter integrity program? If they had any talent and knew how to work a real voter integrity program ROBO calls would not be part of the effort I can assure you! Just another effort to scare their voters to the polls - an enhanced GOTV call. UGH!

  3. - Demoralized - Monday, Oct 27, 14 @ 3:53 pm:

    Notwithstanding the AG’s opinion, can somebody tell me the big danger in putting absentee ballots through the machines? Is there some big danger I’m not aware of that’s reared it’s ugly head in the past over this issue?

  4. - Deep South - Monday, Oct 27, 14 @ 4:03 pm:

    The liberal media and voter fraud. Standard excuses whenever Republicans lose. We’ll probably hear quite a bit of that in the weeks ahead. Not just in Illinois, but around the country.

  5. - Indiana Jones - Monday, Oct 27, 14 @ 4:03 pm:

    Because there’s never been any vote fraud in Illinois and if there had been any, it would never have helped the Democrats….

  6. - Anonymous - Monday, Oct 27, 14 @ 4:06 pm:

    Wow. Dems call voter fraud every single election. Every one. They invented the accusation.

  7. - Anonymous - Monday, Oct 27, 14 @ 4:09 pm:

    I am of the opinion that this will not be as cloase an election that we all anticipate it to be. It may very well be close but not a Gore vs Bush type election. I am probably the only person in Illinois that belives that will have an answer by 9 p.m. as to who won.

  8. - D.P.Gumby - Monday, Oct 27, 14 @ 4:09 pm:

    And cue Republican Voter Fraud Myth, take one…

  9. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Oct 27, 14 @ 4:10 pm:

    Raunerbots are already here to whine I see.

  10. - Patchy - Monday, Oct 27, 14 @ 4:16 pm:

    Voted early today in Sangamon County and, as instructed by the helpful clerk, ran my ballot through the tabulator when I finished. Uh oh. At least it’ll be easy for the AGO to walk down the street and file an action.

  11. - Anonymous - Monday, Oct 27, 14 @ 4:20 pm:

    Voter fraud does happen.

    I am an independent who voted for Quinn but at least I am not a robot for either party. The Democrats always deny voter fraud but it does happen.

    We should have secure fair elections and this way everyone will see that it was fare and then if they complain the rational amongst us will be able to at least know that the election was honest.

    I Believe that the Democrats know that voter fraud happens but just don’t care.

  12. - Cheryl44 - Monday, Oct 27, 14 @ 4:22 pm:

    Demoralized, supposedly if we start counting votes before the end of the voting period, someone will leak the counts and that will give whoever is winning an edge. Or perhaps it will motivate people to vote against whoever is perceived as winning. Or something.

  13. - Wordslinger - Monday, Oct 27, 14 @ 4:23 pm:

    The trouble is, going back to Paul Weyrich, ALEC, voter ID, etc., the strategy of the big brains in the national GOP is to reduce the number of voters that they don’t like.

    The fewer citizens that vote,the better their chances, they figure.

    That might work every now and then in one-offs, but it’s a loser strategy long term. Sad loser strategy.

    Its just Jim Crow. It ain’t Yankee, it ain’t Midwestern and it ain’t Lincoln. And that’s why it’s a loser, in the long run.

  14. - Demoralized - Monday, Oct 27, 14 @ 4:33 pm:

    If at first you don’t succeed, claim voter fraud.

  15. - Great Caesar's Ghost! - Monday, Oct 27, 14 @ 4:45 pm:

    A friend was at a luncheon over the weekend and sat next to a GOP operative who was moaning about voter fraud occurring in early voting … you know, the vote procedure that requires you to show an ID. Sour grapes. I agree that they’re setting the stage for a massive whine if they lose.

  16. - The Captain - Monday, Oct 27, 14 @ 4:46 pm:

    Oh for crying out loud just let the clerks count the stupid votes. Whatever marginal risk in integrity will be far outweighed when we have an election where there are no returns available for days, then people’s confidence in the process will be seriously damaged. These clerks are so overworked when it comes to elections, just let common sense prevail and let them get some work done ahead of time. These votes aren’t Schrodinger’s cat, it’s not like they could change depending on when you count them, just get it done in an orderly, reasonable fashion.

  17. - Thunder Fred - Monday, Oct 27, 14 @ 4:51 pm:

    What a weird Echo Chamber this blog’s comment section has become over the past few weeks. The straw men are taking a real beating.

    Don’t forget to peek your head out and experience the real world from time to time just to get a little perspective.

  18. - chad - Monday, Oct 27, 14 @ 4:51 pm:

    Effective implementers of vote fraud schemes do not engage in the kind of mass conspiratorial coordination dreamed up in left or right wing study groups. And, they don’t gin up the election machines to execute a strategy. It is done subtly, such as the clerk employee who assists a nursing home resident with a selection, the precinct captain who has free run of a polling place and reminds all the new voters just how to get government help on matters, the judge of elections who allows the casting of a ballot when it should be provisional, or the unobserved judge casting one or 2 extra ballots at the closing of the polls for a couple of no-shows. This is not the kind of thing that is detectable, and it certainly is not prosecuted. Yes, there is the occasional idiot who goes overboard and is caught — but these are relatively rare. It is really more a matter of many folks doing just a little bit of “what they have always done”, as opposed to some organized effort. In still other cases, it is the incompetent election judge who just doesn’t know what they are doing, and precinct votes are lost or added as a result. These things do occur with regularity, do add up, and can make a difference. Brady lost by a margin equating to about 3 votes per precinct. The solution is to have well-trained judges of elections, and to have actual GOP people fill those slots (especially in Cook and Chicago). Some sharp lawyers to help with the questions is necessary as well. This year the Illinois GOP has staffed about 3,000 election judge positions with actual vetted Republicans in Cook/Chicago. Disbelieving when told this, I visited a session the GOP threw for its northwest city election judges last Saturday morning, and it was packed — including a lot of new people. I have not seen anything like it in the city since the Jim Thompson days.

  19. - Brendan - Monday, Oct 27, 14 @ 5:09 pm:

    Meh @ the bureaucrats whining how much longer it would take to count the votes.

    There’s nothing in the constitution or statutes that says a final vote tally needs to announced on election night.

    The only people negatively impacted by a longer count are elections staff wanting to go home, impatient pols, and news media (gotta get that scoop/winner declared!).

  20. - The Captain - Monday, Oct 27, 14 @ 5:16 pm:

    Yeah, down with the bureaucrats!!! We should make the whole process as difficult as possible just so no one can accuse us of coddling bureaucrats.

    Wait, what’s that? My tax dollars go to pay seasonal and temporary workers that get hired to cover this massive spike in work needed to conduct elections? Well, in that case maybe they shouldn’t be there indefinitely.

  21. - circularfiringsquad - Monday, Oct 27, 14 @ 5:32 pm:

    Yikes. Guess this means Mitt and the CarWash King can send our their armed Voter Suppression team to scare people away from early voting sites. Should be fun. We think this really confirm Mitt is sinking fast.

  22. - Austin - Monday, Oct 27, 14 @ 5:41 pm:

    So Republicans have no valid concerns about vote rigging in Illinois, especially in areas with vaunted Democratic machines? Just never happened. Evar.

  23. - Wordslinger - Monday, Oct 27, 14 @ 5:47 pm:

    Austin, fill us in.

    The GOP won seven governors races in a row. Lot of vote fraud then?

    Your problem is that the Illinois GOP has degenerated to the point that it can’t beat Blago or Quinn. That is shocking.

  24. - Austin - Monday, Oct 27, 14 @ 5:57 pm:

    Wordslinger, so you are saying if you were running GOP campaigns you would have no concern about vote fraud?

    Republicans did win seven races for Governor in a row, but that doesn’t mean there was not vote fraud in areas with Democrat political machines.

  25. - Wordslinger - Monday, Oct 27, 14 @ 6:02 pm:

    Austin, tell us all about vote fraud. You’re obviously a victim.

  26. - MrJM - Monday, Oct 27, 14 @ 6:26 pm:

    Can someone explain why counting absentee votes on Election Day would cause a significant delay in the tabulation of votes?

    My understanding is that the absentee ballots are pre-sorted by polling place (your name/precinct/etc are all printed on your return envelope), secured in a locked cash-bag-type envelope and sent out to the polling places with the voting machines and other materials. At the close of business, the election judges can then feed the absentee ballots into the machines. The machines totals — both absentee and Election Day totals — are then tabulated and posted.

    If this procedure is followed, I don’t see how counting the absentee ballots at the polling places could add more than 15 or 20 minutes to the process.

    So what’s the deal — am I over-thinking this or under-thinking it?

    – MrJM

  27. - MikeMacD - Monday, Oct 27, 14 @ 6:32 pm:


    In Suburban Cook, absentee ballots are tabulated at the Clerk’s office not in the precincts. Your description is what used to happen several years ago.

  28. - Tom - Monday, Oct 27, 14 @ 6:36 pm:

    The absnetee ballots aren’t sent to the polling places anymore. They are centrally counted.

  29. - ironman - Monday, Oct 27, 14 @ 9:04 pm:

    This has been the running joke of Chicago politics. If it smells like bacon, then it is bacon. The simple programming should not have vote switching. They are not computer glitches in many districts.

  30. - George Washington Plunket - Monday, Oct 27, 14 @ 10:39 pm:

    In Ford County five cows were seen walking into a polling place demanding to vote for Jim Oberweis.

  31. - Irwin Mainway - Tuesday, Oct 28, 14 @ 8:49 am:

    So: DON’T vote absentee in the first place. “Election judges of both parties will confirm the signature on your application with the signature on your voter registration form…. If the signatures don’t match, your absentee ballot will be rejected.”
    Go vote early just as the great Vice President Biden suggested yesterday.

  32. - Crystaldeedee - Monday, Nov 3, 14 @ 12:00 pm:

    I reported a machine in Orland Park, IL (COOK COUNTY)to the States Attorney. We talked to two of them. We were told that TWO machines were taken out and recalibrated. This was on the first day of early voting. I also found out and it was verified, that 4 voting judges are present…BUT, if 3 are Democrat and 1 is a Republican, the Democrat will put on a Republican badge. If 4 Democrats are there, 2 of them are wearing Republican badges. One of the States Attorney told me that he would “never early vote”. The whole thing stinks of FRAUD.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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