Local Election Authorities Combating Misinformation, Organizing Staffing Ahead of Election Day

With just one week until the 2022 general election, some are concerned about poll worker turnout.  

Conspiracies and attacks on election workers have had a negative effect on recruitment nationwide, and on Tuesday, the Illinois State Board of Elections warned of a text message disinformation campaign aiming to sow confusion about polling places.

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The Chicago Board of Elections has received complaints as well. 

“Voters have been receiving a text message sending them to the wrong polling place location, sending them out of the city…” said Max Bever, director of public information for the Chicago Board of Elections. “... That’s the first thing that you should know as a Chicago voter, if someone’s trying to send you outside of the city limits, that’s not the right polling place.”

Bever suggests going to your local voting authority to get accurate information. 

Instances like this can contribute to voter apathy, said Stevie Valles, co-director of Chicago Votes. 

His organization put together a voter guide in hopes of countering misinformation with accurate information. 

“We’ll contribute to more voters being able to cast their ballots and not less,” he said. 

But the issue of misinformation goes behind the polling booth. 

Isorelia Hernandez, election judge supervisor at the Lake County clerk’s office, has faced difficulty recruiting judges. In order to allow for rotation and breaks, the county is aiming to secure 1,100 judges, but they’ve only confirmed around 900.

“We have enough judges for all of our polling places but it’s not where we want it to be, it’s not optimal,” she said. 

While COVID remains a concern for election judges, misinformation has created a tense environment.  

“There’s also some concern about being harassed at the polling places from voters,” she said. 

Bever shared that the Chicago Board of Elections is fully staffed, even overstaffed, due to redistricting and precinct consolidation, which shrank the number of needed judges from 10,345 to 6,450. However, the board is taking into consideration last-minute resignations or no-shows that might occur.

“‘Especially if [election judges] are reading the news, especially if they are feeling insecure about being in a polling place,” Bever said.

The city has a total of 7,222 active judges, almost 1,500 more than the required number needed for each precinct. 

“But this is why we wanted to overstaff our polling places ahead of the Nov. 8 election in Chicago,” Bever said. “Make sure that we’ve got enough staff, we've got enough support and that people feel safe.” 

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