Board of Elections addresses Chinese voter issues

By Colin Mo

By the tenth day of early voting for Illinois’ March 15 primary, the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community alerted Chinese voters to possible election irregularities that might compromise the community’s vote. The alert came as part of voter information guides the CBCAC distributes before each election.

The alert mentioned irregularities that result in people getting ballots they don’t ask for, that select candidates other than those the voters choose, and that tell or force people to vote for specific candidates.

These specific voter issues occurred in Chinatown on Monday. “A bilingual election judge was removed on Monday after complaints of electioneering in the polling place,” said Debbie Liu, a CBCAC spokesperson, who also mentioned that at a McKinley Park location, a machine was found to vote for a particular candidate against the voter’s decision.

“An early voting election worker was removed at the 25th Ward early voting site after not following proper procedures in assisting a voter,” confirmed Jim Allen, Communications Director of Chicago’s Board of Election. “There should be two workers providing assistance, and he was doing so alone.”

Allen said that the irregularity at the McKinley Park location was caused by a touch screen that was out of calibration. The voter brought it to the attention of the election officials on site and was able to vote on another touch screen, he said. “The first machine was removed from use until it could be re-calibrated. We also used the opportunity to double check the calibration on all of the machines at that site. We have not received any complaints since then,” he added.

Allen explained that when machines are moved and jostled in the truck, the transfer can cause machines to calibrate improperly. “We have absolutely no reason to believe there was anything other than a routine calibration issue,” he said.

Allen also responded to the complaint that a voter was forced to vote for candidates they didn’t support. After investigating the incident, city election officials determined that the voter did not live in the district in which with the candidate was running.

CBCAC is encouraging the Chinese community to stay informed through its webpage devoted to explaining voter rights and providing district voting information.

Photo at top: Sheaf of Voter Information Guide distributed by the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community. (Colin Mo/MEDILL)