by Sharon Meroni, ©2014, DefendtheVote

(Apr. 7, 2014) — Last July the Illinois General Assembly passed HB2418. This bill added a couple of sentences to the Provisional Voting Law (ILCS 10/5 18A) that is worded to permit the counting of votes for federal and state candidates which are cast provisionally as ‘out-of-precinct’ ballots. Provisional voting has always been restricted to residents voting within the precinct in which they reside.

Why this new rule was tossed into HB 2418 permitting people to vote outside of their resident precinct remains unexplained.  The impact of it, Defend the Vote warned voters in Illinois about this in the article “It’s Kinda of a Disaster Waiting To Happen”.  Our analysis, however, was just completed on Monday, March 31st. We delved deeply into every aspect of the Law (18A – Provisional Voting) and the JCAR Rules written by the Illinois State Board of Elections (ISBE) in order to submit comments to JCAR and the ISBE.

I am not sure which of our findings (listed below) are the most important… or the most shocking. Really, I am left wondering why the ISBE decided to interpret this law in the way that they have.  Essentially, attempting to make it legal for people to vote outside of their resident precinct and vote anywhere within their county and municipality.  Rule 218 randomly, and without authority, chooses these as the new geographical boundaries for provisional voting.

For instance, these rules qualify for me to vote in Cook, Lake, McHenry, and Kane County.  Consequently, on Election Day, Defend the Vote did a small assessment of provisional voting under the new rules.  I attempted to vote a provisional ballot in all 4 counties.  We reported our findings as part of this investigation to JCAR and the ISBE.  (4 County Assessment: Initial Assessment and Comments Summary

Our comments for JCAR are about 30 pages and are written so the public can comprehend from a quick read, or get into the details. We have set it up so you can read the Comments in chapters as they were submitted to the Illinois State Board of Elections and JCAR.  You can also read it as one document or safely download it fromscrib.  For a quick review, check the summary of findings below.

Summary of Our Findings:

  • Voter Coercion: Beginning in the Primary 2014 election, if a voter takes an out-of-precinct ballot it will automatically vote a “No” on all constitutional amendments that are on the ballot.  There is no choice in the matter, because the out-of-precinct vote on all referendum will not count while at the same time the validated ballot will register as a “no” vote.  The voter must decide “do I want my votes for federal and state office to count so much so, that I will vote no on the constitutional amendment?”We have asked the ISBE to respond to our claim that this is a form of voter coercion; to gain a “right” for some votes to count, they must vote “no” on constitutional questions.
  • False Affidavit Required: 18A-5 requires the voter take an affidavit stating they have resided within the precinct in which they seek to vote for the past 30 days.  No one can get a provisional ballot without this affirmation. If this is true, how could a voter get an out-of-precinct ballot unless they are confused about where their residence is?  Either they reside in the precinct or they do not.We have asked the ISBE and today, all County Clerks, across Illinois to report how many out-of-precinct ballots were cast in March.  We want to know how these can count if the voter’s affidavit is false. Despite 48 hours to respond, the ISBE has been silent except to say that they do not know how many out-of-precinct ballots were cast… and Defend the Vote should contact the counties.  So we have.
  • Rules Upending Law: We find that the rules permitting out-of-precinct voting are inconsistent with the ILCS 10/5-18A.
  • Procedural Conflicts: Proposed Rules 218 radically alter the meaning and procedures for provisional voting despite the legal authority of 18A 2 which states that the procedures specified in 18A govern provisional voting.  Rule 218 procedures contradict mandated procedures and is fatally flawed as written.
  • Insistent Voters Trump Election Judge Mandates:  Rule 218 permits a voter to “insist” they want to vote even after the same law requires the election judge to send the voter out of the polling place.   We argue this inclusion by Rules 218 contradicts the law and places the control of the polling place in the hands of an insistent voter rather than the election judges.
  • Uniformity of the Vote in Illinois is Gone: Under the same “emergency rules” in place on Election Day, our 4 County Assessment found discrepancies in how informed election clerks interpret provisional voting.  This would be expected when rules contradict the law.
  • Security is nonexistent: The proposed rules permit insecure transportation and storage of the provisional ballots which is inconsistent with the legal requirements for ballot protection set within the same statute. {18A -5(b)(6) and 18A – 15 (h)}
         There are virtually no security checks in place.
         These rules permit election authorities and/or election judges to authenticate voters and remake ballots.
  • There goes the VVPAT: These proposed rules potentially violate the requirement that there must be a paper VVPAT for every vote (voter verified paper audit trail – the paper trail for the electronic ballot).  These rules refuse to specify how ballots will be transferred on electronic voting systems and they permit electronic to electronic transfer of the vote without the paper ballot.
  • Secret Votes: These rules violate the right of the voter to know which of his votes count.  In an attempt to squeeze these new rules into existing federal reporting requirements, (all provisional voters have a mandated right to know if their ballot counts) they authorize uploading information that a voter’s ballot counts.  In the legal meaning of 18A this is acceptable because the entire ballot counts or it does not depending on the registration and residence status of the voter.  Under Rule 218, only parts of the ballot count.  How will the voter know what part counted?  Voters, political parties, candidates, and the public have a right to know exactly which votes are counted.  The vote attribution process crosses not only precincts but municipalities, counties, state and federal legislative districts, judge and ballot referendums.
  • Forget Voter Privacy: Violation of secret ballot – These rules permit the same election official or election judges who authenticates the identity of the provisional voter to then remake the ballot. This information must then be loaded onto a state-wide database so the voter knows if his ballot counted.  Consequently not only will election officials and election judges know exactly how a person voted, but the IT person will also know.
  • We Will All Know the Vote: Defend the Vote already knows the vote for every out-of-precinct provisional voter on all constitutional referendums in the November elections.  They will vote No! How many votes will this be?  The Illinois State Board of Elections say they do not collect information about out-of precinct ballots and they have no clue about the numbers.

Voter Integrity on the Edge: The clueless changing the integrity of the vote across Illinois, by rule.

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. I feel that we will have to start dipping our thumbs in ink, like the Iraqi citizens, to show that we have voted. This would solve a lot of problems.