Judges need to ensure ballot box integrity

Voting is a citizen’s duty. Harry Truman called the voting booth America’s “most valuable piece of real estate.” With that in mind, it is imperative every voter and every candidate being voted on is assured the integrity of the ballot box is absolutely maintained. That’s not always the case when a person in charge of a polling site decides comfort zones for certain election judges are more important than seeing to it the integrity of the site is strictly maintained.

Such was the case at Riverfront Museum Park polling place during last November’s presidential election. In spite of repeated reminders election judges are given during our training sessions that no judge is to remain at any one post for any extended period of time, I found myself assigned to the tabulating machines for a grand total of 10 hours with only a short lunch break, which I used to cast my own vote. The only explanation I was given for this arrangement was that other judges complained their feet hurt to stand for any lengthj of time. No one asked me if my feet might hurt standing for a long time period. The result was that I caught a voter tampering with the tape on the machine that was not adequately manned. Margie Mullins, Winnebago County Clerk, and party officials I have spoken with, agree this should never have happened, yet even when Stacey Bixby, assistant executive director of Board of Election Commissioners, visited the polling site and stepped in to help me with impatient voters waiting to have their ballots cast, she did not see fit to speak with the onsite manager about getting a judge to supervise the machine that was unattended. It was shortly after that when I observed a voter tugging on the roll of paper that records voting tallies. “I just wanted to see how this worked,” the voter pleaded.

In researching this matter, I learned that the tabulating machines are not as sensitive as we had been led to believe during training sessions, and two at each polling site probably aren’t necessary for the April election, but it does concern me when something like this happens, especially when I bring the matter to the attention of those supposedly in charge and find myself confronted with an attitude that says in effect, Don’t worry. If necessary, election commissioners can be easily deceived by covering the matter up. I am prepared to give sworn testimony on the allegations I’ve made in this account.

Tim Hughes

From the April 10-16, 2013, issue

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