To the Editor:
I’m a democratic election judge for the 4th Ward in the 23rd precinct. I’ve been serving since the mayoral race between Rahm Emanuel and Chuy Garcia. I most recently served during the 4th Ward special election.
During the election a gentleman named Tyrone (unfortunately I can’t recall his last name) came into the polling station. I handed him the ballot application to fill out. As I pulled up his name, I noticed that the address we had in the voter’s record was different than the one on the paper. He explained that he had moved.
I said no problem and began the procedure to change his address. Once I entered the new address, an alert appeared that stated that he was currently living in the 5th Ward, which made him ineligible to vote in this 4th Ward-only election. The other election judges around me questioned me and argued that 52nd Street and Drexel Avenue is definitely in the 4th Ward. The computer said it wasn’t and that’s the information provided by the board of elections.
The man got upset and said “I know what this is,” and stormed out.
Minutes later, Toni Preckwinkle arrived to shake hands and greet everyone like she always does before she comes to vote. She also came in with the same man. She asked me why I told him he could not vote and I explained that he no longer lives in the 4th Ward. She said it doesn’t matter because he’s registered at a 4th Ward address. The man also stated that he moved only two weeks ago, which in other elections means that he would be eligible to vote there within 30 days of moving. I apologized and processed the man to vote and he voted. As he left, he gave Toni Preckwinkle a big bear hug.
Later, Yalinda (I didn’t get her last name), from the board of elections, called Karyn Morrow, the cell phone judge assigned to our precinct and one of the judges who argued that the man could indeed vote, just to check in. She asked if there were any issues. Karyn told her what happened with the man and they looked him up in the system. Yalinda said that he should NOT have voted in this election and that they would take care of the error. She said to call them immediately if anything like that happened again. Thankfully, it didn’t.
I don’t want any trouble for myself but it’s very important to me to keep our elections clean and unquestionably fair. My integrity was inappropriately called into question by a person of power and while one voter is small potatoes, we don’t need the validity of our elections compromised in the current political climate.
My message to anyone, voters and judges alike: If something doesn’t seem right, always call the board of elections while it’s happening, even if a powerful politician who you respect is telling you that you’re definitely wrong.