Just hours after Illinois polls opened for early voting, it became clear that something might be amiss. State Senate Candidate Jim Moynihan (R – IL 56) set out to cast a ballot for himself at the Schaumburg Public Library near Chicago. When he touched the screen over the box by his name, however, he noticed that the “check” appeared in the box desgnated to his Democrat opponent. Concerned, he scrolled through the ballot and realized that the same thing was happening in every race on the ballot.
Moynihan immediately notified the election judge, who told him that if he could “figure it out” to go ahead. After a few minutes, he did figure out how to make the machine register the correct information, and so completed his ballot. Concerned that others might have the same problem later, he copied down the serial number of the offending voting machine before he left the polling place.
Immediately after leaving the polling place, the Moynihan campaign put together a release detailing the incident. When I called the campaign to verify the story, a spokesperson clarified:
“No one is placing blame. We're not saying this was intentional voter fraud or that anyone meant to do this. It may be something as simple as a calibration error in that particular machine. We just want to ensure that others are on the lookout for things like this because we want everyone's vote to count. We got our release out as soon as possible to make sure we kept the poll workers honest – and sure enough, just after we released the serial number of the machine in question, the state announced that there was a problem with the calibration and that machine had been removed from service.”
But questions abound as to whether this was or was not intentional. The Illinois gubernatorial race is currently too close to call, as Republican Bruce Rauner has pulled in some typically Democrat endorsements from Chicago news outlets and a coalition of African American pastors. Statistics suggest that any statewide GOP candidate who hopes to carry the state must carry at least 20% of Chicago – and it looks as though Rauner stands in a decent position to do just that. A few voting machines that “accidentally” cast a vote for Quinn could go a very long way in keeping the Governor's mansion blue.
And Illinois isn't the only place where early voting problems have been reported: an Arizona poll worker released video on Monday of ballots being stuffed by a Democrat operative.