Voting mishaps were rare in Tuesday’s election

Oprah Winfrey, one day removed from the campaign trail, wasn’t too busy to vote or to help Tuesday. Winfrey, who has campaigned for U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (DIll.) in several key states, was home in Chicago voting when she apparently heard another voter wa

The voter was turned away because there was only one elections judge staffing the precinct. Winfrey waited with the young voter until a second election official arrived. “[Winfrey] overheard or saw the problem while she was voting, and got involved,” Jim Allen, Cook County Board of Elections communications director said. Some Evanston voters tried repeatedly to register their votes but the “invisible ink” they were using yielded no results.

An election official apparently gave 20 would-be-voters pointers instead of pens. When pressed why they didn’t write, he explained to the voters they were using invisible ink. The matter was further complicated when the machine tallying the votes rejected those ballots.

They were read as blank ballots when the election official attempted to override the machine. “Either one of the judges or one of the voters eventually said ‘this can’t be right,’” Allen added. He said an investigator was assigned and “we found seven [of the affected voters], and we left notes at the homes of the other 13,” Allen said, noting that they will be given a chance to re-vote. Allen said that he does not know if the judge will be penalized.

A moving company delivered election equipment to the wrong location, delaying voting at the Diversey Square Apartments in Logan Square by more than an hour. Voters were turned away. Because of the late start, Allen went to the Cook County Circuit Court at 4:15 pm to request a one hour extension to keep that polling place open longer.

It was granted and that poll remained open until 8 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. Allen said, however, that nothing could be done to retrieve the lost voters. Overall, Allen described the glitches as “minor.” “This was a smooth election.We had minor incidents in 2,579 precincts. By no means are these indicative of endemic problems. They are all isolated incidences. None that we take lightly, however overall the election went very smoothly,” Allen said.

According to Cook County spokesperson Gail Siegel, the same could be said for suburban Cook County where the only problems were a couple of late polling places and a few missing power cords. “To have two late polling places out of 2,290 polling places is remarkable. We’re very pleased with this,” Siegel said.

A locked door at an Oak Park precinct, and late judges at a Worth Township precinct led to late starts of up to an hour. However, Siegel said that the Cook County Circuit Court approved one hour extensions for both places.

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