Tuesday, February 24, 2015

City: Early voting results are not counted until the polls close tonight, despite any 'results' you may have seen already

I had an email from a northwest side aldermanic candidate Saturday morning: "Early vote returns through Friday show that we have 49.2 percent of the vote," the email read, "just short of the 50 percent plus one we need to avoid Round 2 in March and April." Then, in bold type, "We need just 53 more votes from voters like you by 5:00 today to win the early vote." Saturday, of course, was the last day for early voting ahead of today's Chicago primary.

I'm wary of early voting. I've always thought that the best chance for my vote to be counted was to cast my ballot in my home precinct on Election Day. Why take chances?

But Saturday's email really rocked me. Could someone really be looking at early returns and feeding them to some candidates? That struck me as highly objectionable -- but (as I have stated here on numerous occasions) I am not an election law specialist.

I asked election attorney James P. Nally about the candidate's claims to be winning the early vote in the most general of terms (not identifying the candidate in any way). Nally responded, "Early votes are not counted until after the polls close at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday," he advised, adding, "Early votes are logged into the touchscreens as they are voted. Early voting does provide a record of which voters have cast an early vote, and the information on what voters voted an absentee paper ballot is also compiled. However none of these votes, either early votes on the touch screen or the paper absentee ballots, are actually tabulated until after 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday. These totals are then rolled into the numbers coming out of the in precinct voting that begin reporting after 7:00 p.m. via modem to the central office of the Chicago Board of Elections."

Although that was comforting, and entirely consistent with press reports about greater turnout for early voting this year that do not hint who might be benefiting from these votes, I double-checked with the City of Chicago Board of Elections. I forwarded the email to Jim Allen, the Board's press contact, and he was quick to respond: "We do not process or count any ballots until election day. We know which voters have cast ballots, as that’s public information, but not how anyone has voted. We have no idea what the email that you supplied is referencing."

Therefore, I have to assume that the candidate in question made it up. But why bother?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think the e-mail was improperly worded. Campaigns canvass wards and get a good sense of who supports their candidate and who supports the opposition. I believe that the campaign could see who already voted, bumped it up against their roster, and concluded that they were getting out a certain percentage of the vote. To word it as they did was just stupidity.