Chicago area election judges prepare for midterms as FBI warns of nationwide threats

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Ross Weidner WLS logo
Wednesday, November 2, 2022
Election judges prepare for midterms as FBI warns of threats
Chicago area polling place workers have been preparing for Illinois Election Day 2022 as the FBI warns of threats nationwide.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Poll workers are on the front lines of democracy, making sure our elections run securely and smoothly. Amid a national political climate where some election workers across the country are facing threats and others are leaving the job entirely, the I-Team found workers in Illinois getting ready for election day.

At a recent election judge training inside the White Eagle Banquets hall in Niles, people from all over Cook County are learning how to set up voting equipment and prepare for any potential election day issues in this heightened political climate.

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"To be honest, I considered bailing out this year because of all the coverage of hassling, intimidation and threats to election workers but it's still important enough that elections in this country manage to get conducted with organization and with fairness," said Steven Lloyd from Oak Park before the training.

"I think in this area people are cognizant that everyone should have their own opinion and have their right to vote in a safe, secure place," Bonnie Masterman from Northbrook told the I-Team.

Local election officials tell the I-Team they have not had any threats against election workers here in Illinois. Just last month, the FBI issued a warning about election worker threats tied to the midterms across the country. Election workers surveyed by experts at the Brennan Center are also sounding the alarm.

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"The prevalence of these threats is alarmingly high. There were one out of six local election officials said that they personally had experienced threats in the survey and about one in three were concerned that it was going to affect recruitment," said Gowri Ramachandran, Senior Counsel at the Brennan Center Election & Government Program.

Despite initial concerns about a shortage of poll workers here in Illinois, election officials in Chicago and the collar counties tell the I-Team they will be fully staffed this election season. Sometimes that comes at increased cost. In Kane County, they've raised their poll workers pay to $250 for this election day.