Election Snag: Ballots Won’t Fit Into Vote-Counting Machines

Updated 03/20/12 – 8:32 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — An Election Day snag across Illinois is creating problems at the polls, where judges have found that ballots won’t fit into counting machines.

The issue centers on the fact that some of the ballots are too big, CBS 2 investigator Pam Zekman reports. The Illinois State Board of Elections said the problem affected at least 25 of the state’s 102 counties.

Judges are being told to cut the ballots by hand, so that they can fit into the machines, Zekman reported. Some ballots will be shipped to county clerk offices where they will be cut and counted. All counties in Illinois, except Vermillion, have an option to ask voters to cast their ballots by touch screen.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports

WMBD-TV in Peoria shot video of judges cutting ballots to make them fit.

In Rockford, voters and election judges were surprised to see ballots being rejected by the tabulator machines, because the ballots were cut too wide – by just 1/16th of an inch.

Ballots were also rejected at polling places in Moline because they didn’t fit. One solution was having voters use touchscreen voting booths instead, though many polling places have only one touchscreen machine.

Kenneth R. Menzel, with the Illinois State Board of Elections said, “It’s not a uniform problem all the way across. It varies from county to county, and of course not all of the ballots, even in an affected precinct, were impacted by the problem.”

At some locations, judges trimmed the corner of the ballots until they fit in the ballot box. At others, ballots were placed in an alternative bin, to be cut down or counted by hand at the end of the day at a centralized election facility.

“All of the votes will be able to be counted,” Menzel said. “Our numbers just may come in a little bit slower than they normally would.”

In DuPage County, 23 of 360 locations had the wrong-sized ballots

The company that supplied the ballots is GBS (Governmental Business Systems) Vote, which is based in Lisle. GBS Vote is not the only company that supplied ballots, so state election officials are still trying to determine the overall impact.

GBS President Larry Mandel said a third-party printer improperly cut some of the ballots at the very bottom right hand corner.

“There were some that there were a little wide down at the right hand corner, so they will unable to actually process the ballot,” Mandel said.

  • Me

    You mean the talking heads won’t have something to cover constantly while people are still voting and counting? Oh dear…

    So that was the problem when I voted this morning.

    • Clydethevoter

      Is anyone considering the other, better answer to this. Public counting of paper ballots video recorded and put away for anytime it’s needed in the future. What is this country coming to, these internet and these touch screen computer voting machines have been proven corruptible. Why should I trust my vote with a programmer…

    • Tom P.

      So, nobody had the brilliant idea to check the ballots BEFORE the election? Still, not surprising for Illinois, the home of vote early and often.

  • Toonces

    Gimme a break.

    • Patriot

      Smells like a Florida election redux.

    • Zip

      I don’t see any chance of a problem here.
      Since when has voting become so difficult?


      • TrannicalPoliceStateExposed

        The next election has already been decided. Unelected officials took over Washington and the media after the coup and cover up. Even most of the comments online are financed with your tax dollars. Big brother is trying to create the perception of public opinion while burying the truth. They think you can’t handle the truth. Fact of the matter is we have no democracy, president, and freedom of press is an illusion.

        Our next election is shaping up to be as big of a sham as the last. Do you know why Sarah Palin’s bus tour was really canceled? Do you know why she stayed 30 miles away from the second debate and chose the death of Steve Jobs to announce that she’s not running? Know what leaked out? Sarah Palin and Cain aren’t in the race for the same reason, the truth leaked out.

        Search PalinsDirtyLittleSecret for the biggest cover up in world history.

  • chicago's own

    Something fishing going on.believe it or not.

  • nothx

    Derp derpity derp derp

  • Susy

    Oh my! And, in IL too? What a surprise! Bet Rahm will handle it.

  • Carney Assada

    So are they hiring SIEU people to “cut” the ballots?

    Let’s see… this guy voted for Santorum. Cut his ballot nicely on the edge so it’ll fit into the vote counter.

    Oh… here’s a Romey ballot. Cut it in half, then cast it aside as void.

  • NCT

    Just an SIEU warm up for November…

  • Mike0oSS

    I wonder how many “over votes” there are…..More votes in a precinct than registered voters…Happens alll the time here in Minnesota

    • Carney Assada

      Maybe it’s time to do the purple finger test….

    • Cynic

      Chicago has perfect voting among its dead. :)

  • bryan

    This definitely doesn’t make it easier to cheat…oh wait…head back in the sand.

  • John Wolf

    I smell a rat. Is SEIU in charge of this operation?

  • FTC

    Chicago….The Most Corrupt City in America…

  • Jeff

    Looks like it’s gonna be a bit harder to fix the count in this state

  • FrustratedinVA

    It’s Illinois….the very root of corruption. Are we at all surprised?

  • Grant

    Is this a trial run to stealing the ’12 Presidential Election? Let’s see if this will work in our favor, we can’t run on any of his “accomplishments”!!! LOL, buh bye Barry! What a perfect place to kick off Stealing the Election 2012 but in Illinois, what a joke!!!

  • M.

    Ok, who forgot to distribute the new ballots format to the dead?

    • voteoncolor


  • Rob Frey

    The only way i will believe the outcome is if they fix the ballots and do it all again.
    To many corrupt ballots these days.

  • Del Wasso

    NOTE TO RACIST RIGHT-WING SLIME-BALLS: Democrats ONLY had a horse in races where redistricting could brng a democrat to seats formally held by Republicans, and with the exception of Rockford and the Quad Cities, there weren’t any voting ‘irregularities’ in those areas.

    This is a REPUBLICAN problem affecting REPUBLICANS, with REPUBLICANS counting the votes.

    So you can all kiss my ass.

    • voteoncolor

      Hmmmmmm, I bet your black.

      • THEE Yard Ape

        Nah, couldn’t be!!! Ni @@ ers voting for ni @@ ers, but I’m the racist for pointing that out, right!! LOL !!!!!

  • RickM

    It is not so much a voter fraud issue as it is an incompetence issue. Wonder why it is so hard to get someone to do the job correctly / competently the first time. Lack of skills; lack of integrity (give-a-sh#t attitude); lack of education (gubment skools); … Oh, wait … it’s Chicago … never mind.

  • Jason

    Bohunk City

  • S.zier

    I used to feel sorry for 3rd world countries that elections were obviously corrupt. We are now one of them.

  • http://electionupdates.caltech.edu/2012/03/21/ballot-problem-in-il/ Election Updates - Ballot problem in IL
  • Frankie D

    Whoops, someone jumped the gun….these oversized republican ballots weren’t to be distributed in Illinois until the Nov 2012 general election. Not to worry though, the crooked democratic machine will just make up a new batch of too small to work republican ballots. Count on it. What do you expect for a state that has it’s last two governors sent to prison for corruption!

  • 3rd World Voter

    My ballot was spit back out, as was my spouses. We voted for Ron Paul. Does the machine count it twice when it spits it back out and has to be fed back in? Just wondering. Something weird might be going on there. Just sayin’.

  • Vote Loud



  • Jimmie

    No worries just give the democrat committie a few minutes and they will reproduce all the ballots on a form that will fit in the machine….thank goodness we have someone to trust when things like this happen……

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