Ballot Access Problems in Kane County

by , posted on Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010 at 10:39 am

I went to vote this morning, signed the sheet, was asked to confirm the address I live at, which they read out to me from their computer, and was immediately told “Okay then, we just need to see a photo id.”

To which I responded “No you don’t.”

Much conversation, several phone calls, and even more problems ensued. The details are below.

I was pretty sure of my ground here, as I had researched the issue in the last election when I was required to show an id to vote early, so I told the poll worker that the law in Illinois is that you have to show a photo id to vote early, but no id is required to vote at your regular polling place on election day. The poll worker informed me that it was a new federal law, just taken effect this election, and I would have to show an id, or I could not vote.

I stated that I believed that to be wrong, that I felt sure I would have heard otherwise if the law had changed, repeated the law in Illinois. The poll worker said it had nothing to do with Illinois law, repeated that it was a new federal law which trumped Illinois law, and said again I could not vote without a valid photo id. I said “just a second, I’m going to make a call and check this,” took out my cell phone and also my id – but held my id in my hand instead of handing it over – and called someone I know who is working on Maria Owen’s campaign as I assumed she would have an attorney standing by. I went to voice mail. So I dialed a Foster staffer I know, went to voice mail again.

I then suggested to the poll worker that he give me the county clerk number and I would call them with the problem, and was told they have a number to call with problems, but its their job to call them not mine, and there was no problem: “they’d all been trained” and I just needed to comply with the law and give them my photo id.

I replied “I have it right here in my hand, but I think there is a problem and I want to get to the bottom of it, so I suggest you call.”

He made no move to do so, so I called the next person I could think of, a Republican elected official and precinct committeewoman in an adjacent Kane County community. Got her voice mail at home, but got her on her cell, and she advised me she knew of no such change to the law, repeated what I had said – that she felt sure she would have heard about it had there been such a change.

Meh. Tried talking to the poll worker about it again, but he was unmovable, sure he was right, repeated that he had been trained, and since I needed to vote and leave town on a business trip, I caved and handed over my id, but told him I was going to follow up and report it.

He checked my id, said the address was wrong. Well, yeah, sure it’s wrong – I have recently moved, but I correctly changed my voter registration to my new current address and that is where I was attempting to vote. I said as much.

Mr. Poll Worker then said he needed to see a photo id with my current address. I said I don’t have one, and “no you don’t need to see that at all. I need to vote and you need to let me.” He said “sorry, but without something…do you have anything at all with your current address?”

I said “I might have my voter registration card with me, but you don’t need to see it.”

He said that would work for him.

I checked my wallet, not there.

He said, “Sorry, but I have to see something with that address.”

I said, “look I am a voter registrar in this county, and I know the law as well, all you need is a signature match and you already have that, I am legally registered to vote at the address where I currently reside, so you need to let me vote. I just walked over here from the address where I reside and if you make me walk back there and then back here with proof of that address we are really going to have a problem, so I think you need to give me that phone number for the county clerk so I can call and report the problem now.”

He said he couldn’t give me the number, but hang on and he’d see if they could call the county clerk, and called over this woman who confirmed that I needed a photo id, but told him to go ahead and give me a ballot, despite the wrong address on my id. She actually apologized to me pretty profusely, said the poll worker was just doing his job, it was indeed a new federal law that required showing an id, so it was out of his hands to let me vote without it, they had all been pretty thoroughly trained in it, but sure she would let me go ahead and vote even though I didn’t have the right address on my photo id. So I was finally allowed to vote.

While I was voting the Foster staffer I had called returned my call and I let it go to voice mail.

Went right outside and called her back, she said she would turn the question over to the campaign. Got a subsequent call back confirming that I was right: no photo id required, Foster campaign was sending an attorney over to that polling place. I advised them that they just might have a county-wide problem, since there was general agreement at that polling place that they had all been trained in this fictitious new federal law.

They thanked me, called me back again to say they had a subsequent complaint of the same problem from another polling place, also in Kane County, but in another community.

We really, really need to get rid of Jack Cunningham.


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