Protecting the Early Vote in Chicago – Updates!


by Sharon Meroni, DefendtheVote

(Nov. 7, 2014) — Good Day!

I thought you might appreciate an update on the securing of the early voting scrolls in Chicago – Read below.

This is a follow-up on what happened at the Board meetings on Tuesday, October 21st.

Recap: In 2013, Defend the Vote conducted a FOIA investigation of how the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners secures the early voted ballots (both the paper copy printed by the machine and the USB memory device which saves the record of the vote). This FOIA proved that there was no verified chain of custody, literally! The ballots were moved from the early voting sites to the CBEC without anyone assuring that they were locked and sealed before leaving the early voting site, during transport to CBEC offices at 69 West Washington, or once arriving at the CBEC offices.  We presented our results to the Chicago Board of Elections and were promised on multiple occasions that new procedures to secure the vote would be put in place.  Each time we requested a copy of these new procedures we were told to wait… they were coming.  Finally, unable to wait any longer, we appealed to the Illinois State Board of Elections right before their October 21st Board meeting to assure the early voted ballots in Chicago are secured.

On Tuesday afternoon, there were two Board meetings; the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners (CBEC) and the Illinois State Board of Elections (ISBE). Both took place during the same time frame.  Logistically, there was a small chance I could make it to both, but I had to go to the ISBE meeting, first. On the agenda was the HAVA complaint filed in late August.  During this Board meeting, the ISBE and I agreed to work to set up an “alternative dispute resolution” process and are currently looking for the correct legal group to serve in the role of assisting to resolve the HAVA complaint.

The letter I sent to the Illinois State Board of Elections is in this article: Loosy Goosy Security on the EV Voted Ballots.

On Tuesday, right before I spoke, the ISBE approved Ken Menzel as the new General Counsel to replace Steve Sandvoss, who is now the Executive Director. General Counsel Menzel’s first job following his appointment was literally to run to the Chicago Board meeting (which was still in session across the street) and to have them provide evidence that the early voted ballots are secured. Many of the ISBE Board members displayed concern and wanted immediate answers!

When Menzel arrived at the 8th floor of the Chicago Board of Elections, the Board had just entered into executive session.  I arrived a few minutes afterwards. Following this, Executive Director, Lance Gough provided these papers (see below) which are designed to provide a verified and duplicated chain of custody of the early voted ballots.

Results!  Finally!

These new procedures provide both verification and duplication of the movement of the voted ballots.  This is very important because it is the only record of voting conducted from the early voting sites, and Illinois law requires voted ballots to be sealed and locked.

Does this mean the vote is secure?

What it does mean is that the vote is MORE secure.  A catastrophic flaw in CBEC processes has been corrected, but without oversight it is our belief the Board will slip to familiar habits of loosy goosy security… Consequently, following each election, Defend the Vote will FOIA these new forms to assure that they are used to protect each and every vote and that they do not become obsolete from a lack of use.

Return Early Voting Materials Statement by Defend the Vote

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