MARKHAM, Ill. (CBS) — Wednesday, Oct. 7, was the start of early voting in parts of suburban Cook County – but it seems some in the elections department didn’t know that.
We’ve learned that a simple wrong date entered into a computer has led to long lines and a lot of frustration for people trying to cast their ballots Tuesday.
As CBS 2’s Steven Graves reported, election officials at the Markham Courthouse said they anticipated large crowds, but not the technical errors.
And while some voters waited it out, others just left altogether.
When people lined up to vote in Markham, they had masks, gloves, and in some cases face shields. They also had to pack a lot of patience.
“Calamity, frustration – people were getting kind of upset with each other,” one woman said.
For most at the Markham Courthouse, a two-hour wait turned into five. Handmade fans and lawn chairs became life-savers.
“We were going to go to another courthouse. They said it was closed at those locations too,” said JoAnn Green. “A lot of people left. A lot of older people left who just couldn’t stand it anymore.”
This was all as election officials scrambled to fix a glitch.
“They said they started having technical issues, and they didn’t really know what was happening,” said Jerome Beverly.
On-site staff told CBS 2 it had to do with a mixed-up date in the system.
“Today is October 7th and the machines were saying October 19th, so we couldn’t vote until that was corrected,” said Darlene Sammons-Ross.
Oct. 19 is the date indicated on the Cook County Clerk’s website as the day when early voting starts at all locations.
Tech crews eventually fixed the dates, but then another issue came up – problems with cards that input voter information into machines.
“One lady had to go back four times to get her card reinstated to work,” Green said.
An election judge said they had to input data manually. That process is slower, and involves constantly getting codes from the downtown offices.
All suburban voting locations, also including Skokie, dealt with the problems. Even a database meant to tell people the length of wait times went down.
“The experience was not a happy one,” Sammons-Ross said.
But the happiness did come when votes were officially counted. People wore their “I voted” stickers like badges of honor.
The election judge at the Markham Courthouse said he hopes things get checked out overnight. Graves was told for the most part, things were back to normal by the early evening.
There was hope that the issues Wednesday do not foreshadow any problems on Oct. 19, when 50 sites around Cook County go online.
Some might also be worried about whether their vote was counted because of the glitches. But the election judge was adamant that every vote was counted.
Once a ballot gets into a machine, the judge said it prints a piece of paper and a scanner inputs the vote. He said there were no issues on that end.