CHICAGO (CBS) — Wrong materials, no materials, and of course coronavirus fears; it was a rough Election Day in many places in the Chicago area. Add to that conflict between Gov. JB Pritzker and the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, which criticized the governor for not postponing the vote.
CBS 2’s Jim Williams shows us what voters went through.
It was a question that kept Doug Brooks up all night; whether to again serve as an election judge on the Northwest Side.
Brooks was there before dawn to help prepare the polling place for voters, but he left at 6 a.m., like hundreds of other election judges in Chicago, pulling out over coronavirus fears. He said it was a “really tough” decision, as it would have been his fourth election manning the polls.
“I made a commitment to be here and I really believe in the election process in our democracy,” he said. “I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t bring it home to my family. I have an older, older than me mother-in-law, and just imagine if I brought that home.”
Jamar Foreman will always remember his first time as an election judge. Essential equipment was not at the polling place in Andersonville where he was staffing the election on Tuesday.
“The whole blue box that includes everything we need to run the election,” he said.
The equipment wasn’t delivered on time by the election board, so Foreman could only tell voters arriving early at the Andersonville polling place that they should try to come back in about 20 or 30 minutes.
“Even after the 20,30 minutes, after us calling the election board was waiting for the equipment to come, it still didn’t come,” Foreman said.
Not until three hours after the polling place opened.
Meantime, at an apartment complex in Hyde Park, the equipment was fine, but voting was delayed because materials for another precinct were there by mistake.
“We’re just getting started at roughly call it 11:30, which is the first time somebody can vote,” election judge Alonzo Morgan said.
Protection against the coronavirus was a concern everywhere, but in the 45th ward on the Northwest Side, the board of elections dropped off only one 8-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer, after assuring voters polling places would be wiped down.
Chicago voters were told polling places would be wiped down and there would be plenty of sanitizer… but when election judges arrived here in the 14th precinct of the 45th ward, this is all they had…one 8 oz bottle. @cbschicago pic.twitter.com/0RhHaXfFAn
— Jim Williams (@JimWilliamsCBS2) March 17, 2020
“Pretty frustrating. I have three kids. I have to go home and knowing I’ve been here all day. You hear people coughing. It;s like it’s scary to even be here,” election coordinator Amber Liset said.
The pastor of the church hosting the polling place provided additional sanitizer; judges themselves brought in gloves and wipes.
“Really were just scrambling with the community to get what we need,” Liset said.