Chicago polling place confusion due to recent redistricting

November 6, 2012 4:22:20 PM PST
There were warnings ahead of time that many polling places had new locations this year. But there have still been complaints from Chicago voters who had trouble finding their polling place.

The heaviest turnout was seen in the early morning, pre-work hours, and things started picking up again in the evening hours after 5 p.m.

Four polling places reportedly opened late Tuesday morning, but with over 2,000 sites across Chicago, things have been going smoothly for the most part.

"Real quick, real easy, I was only in there about 10 minutes," said voter James Graham.

Polling places across the city have been busy all day. While most people have been able to cast their votes without problems, there have been some issues, most notably people showing up at the wrong polling place.

"I originally went up the street, because that's where I usually vote, and they told me that (precinct) number 24 had moved," said voter Hillary May.

The confusion stems from the recent redistricting.

Though election officials sent out mailers and urged voters to double-check their polling places in advance, many were unable to do so when Tuesday morning the Chicago Board of Elections website crashed for several hours under pressure from so much Web traffic.

"A lot of our voters waited until the last moment to check their polling places, got to what used to be their polling places and found out the redistricting process required them to move," said Chicago Board of Elections Chairman Langdon Neal. "We had an unprecedented demand on our website. It completely swamped and overwhelmed us. We were able to establish a link to the state board of elections which allowed the voters to check, get their polling places from the state board of elections web site."

Other issues stemmed from registration mistakes.

Janice Thomas arrived at her polling place at 65th and Richmond only to find there were three unknown people registered at her address, none of which were her.

"I did the provisional vote and they told me they weren't sure if it would be counted or not," Thomas said, "and I was very upset, because I want to know who are the people who have my address, because I've been living in my house for 14 years."

Chicago election officials are urging voters to double check their polling place because 20 percent of Chicago voters have a new polling place this time due to redistricting. Since the ChicagoElections.com website was overwhelmed with traffic Tuesday, voters can find their polling place at http://elections.il.gov/VotingInformation/RegistrationLookup.aspx. The other option is to call the elections office at 312-269-7900.

The polls will be open until 7 p.m. Anyone in line by that time will be able to vote -- as long as you're at the correct polling place.

For Indiana voters, polls are open until 6 p.m., and in Wisconsin, poll hours were scheduled from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.


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