Guest Blogged by John Gideon

At noon Wednesday, Chicago was missing 252 memory cartridges, 93 from machines that scanned in paper ballots and 159 from touch screens. County officials couldn't find 162 memory cartridges from suburban precincts--68 from optical-scanning machines and 94 for touch-screen balloting.

The problems led midday to the sight of Cook County Director of Elections Clem Balanoff--his tie loosened and eyes bleary--rifling through blue duffel bags at a county warehouse for precinct returns for uncounted votes on missing memory cartridges.

It was only early last month that the state of Illinois certified the Sequoia voting system that was used in the Illinois primary in Chicago and suburban Cook County this week. In that 6 week period over 23,000 election judges had to be trained to set-up and use the voting machines and they had to learn a completely new set of procedures for opening and closing the polls.

The county and city failed to do that training or failed to do enough of it for those who were trained at all. According to this morning's Chicago Tribune:

Langdon Neal, chairman of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, further said that 4,000 of Chicago's 14,000 election judges attended no training and instead relied on a judge's manual that was sent in the mail and was written in a complicated and confusing manner.

Training for county judges emphasized videos and not hands-on instruction. None of the 9,600 election judges in suburban Cook County had ever touched the scanning device used to process paper ballots, said Cook County Clerk David Orr.

This clear lack of training and the introduction of new, un-reliable voting machines has caused what amounts to a disaster in vote counting. Three days after the voters went to the polls votes are still being tallied. In fact, memory cartridges were still being located as of Wednesday afternoon.

Not helping with all of the chaos were the machine failures reported all around the city and county:

  • "A high-tech voting system in Chicago and suburban Cook County provided plenty of frustration and confusion for voters during its first test Tuesday, as election officials dealt with missing power cords and ballots, jammed equipment and broken electronic voting machines." LINK
  • "As voting in today's primary election nears an end, some of the new, multi-million dollar voting machines were a hi-tech headache for voters." LINK
  • "As election officials closed the polls Tuesday evening, reports of glitches from throughout the day continued as both voters and election officials learned how to deal with a new, high-tech voting system in Chicago and suburban Cook County."LINK
  • So this week's Illinois primary has been a disaster with machine breakdowns, procedural errors, lost memory cartridges and a complete lack of training. They have to be able to learn from this and make changes; right? Well actually, as reported by VoteTrustUSA, they are going to take all of those Sequoia voting machines used in Chicago and suburban Cook County and they are shipping them all to Clark County, Nevada. Meanwhile, Chicago and Cook County will be getting another brand-new Sequoia voting system that has never been used in any election. Let's hope they can take just a little more time to train their poll judges because November will be here soon.