Blame it on the weather, said one election official. But the truth is a lot simpler and can be summed up in one, simple phrase:
“This is Illinois. What did you expect?”
It was discovered Tuesday morning that some of the paper ballots being cast were too big to fit into the counting machines. Or the machines were too small to handle the paper ballots. Or it might have been both, with a kicker — paper too big, machine too small, election officials too dumb.
A slight blade misalignment in a ballot printing machine stirred up an Election Day problem Tuesday for a smattering of officials throughout Illinois who reported that as many as several thousand ballots cast were slightly too wide to fit in the counting machines.
Both ballot companies and elections supervisors in 25 affected counties worked throughout the morning to rectify the problem. By mid-afternoon they had figured out that ballots from the bottom of the shrink-wrapped stacks were the right size, and that trimming a sliver off thick ballots already filled out was the quickest fix.
State and county elections officials expected only minor delays in tabulation after the polls closed, only because of a small number of ballots that were cast and placed in locked auxiliary ballot boxes until the polls closed.
In DuPage County — the most populous county effected — only 23 of the county’s 360 polling locations experienced problems, equaling hundreds of ballots, not thousands, an election spokesman said. Neither Cook County nor the City of Chicago experienced the problem.
“It was an issue in the trimming of the ballots,” said Ken Griffin, managing partner at Liberty Systems LLC, one of two ballot vendors who use the same Addison printing company to produce ballots. “The knives they use to cut the ballots as they come off the press were just a little out of tolerance. If you saw it, you wouldn’t believe it was enough to cause a problem. We are thinking this warm weather might have had something to do with it too.
“It’s traumatic for all of us, because we want everything to go as smoothly as it can from the very start,” Griffin said at about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. “But we believe we have it under control.”
Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel should be paying attention to this fellow. Blame voting problems on the weather! I can just see him now: “Hey! It’s not our fault the dead got up and walked to the polling booth. It was such a nice day I’m sure the weather had something to do with it.”
I guess this shows that not only are Illinois election officials incapable of running a clean contest, they apparently can’t run an efficient election either.