Two Illinois voters say their attempts to vote early for Republicans on an electronic voting machine were registered as votes for Democrats—and they say have the video evidence to prove it.
The voters are 18- and 19-year-old Moline residents who asked to remain anonymous. They say they went to their polling station on Monday, October 28, at the Moline Public Library. Both say they were aware of recent news stories that other early voters in their area had experienced difficulties voting on electronic machines. The complaints have been widespread.
The Republican House candidate for the area, Bobby Schilling, claims 20 supporters have called his campaign to say that their attempts to vote for him were switched to his opponent, Democratic congresswoman Cheri Bustos.
“Two nights ago, I took a call from a supporter of mine who said that his mother-in-law had gone to the library to vote and that every time that she went to push my name that it automatically bounced up to my opponents name,” Schilling told KWQC, the local NBC affiliate, on October 24. “I thought, well, maybe she mixed up, she’s an older gal, but come to find out in the last two days I’ve taken 17 calls of people saying the exact same thing.”
The two Moline voters say they didn’t expect to experience problems. They figured the problem was older people were having difficult with the machines’ touchscreens. But both said their attempts to vote for Republicans on several races were switched to select the Democrat. One of the voters said he tried to vote for the Republican candidate in the races for U.S. House and the state senate, and that both his votes were registered as those for the Democratic candidate. The second voter said he had the same problem for those races as well as those for the state house and the Rock Island County clerk race.
“I pressed the top of the box for [Republican state senate candidate] Neil Anderson, and it clicked for [Democratic state senator] Mike Jacobs,” he said. The machines, both voters said, require the use of fingers, and no stylus or other device is provided.
The voters say they decided to use their cell phones to film their votes after having trouble. They said they wanted to show how easily the machines registered the wrong vote. Watch that video below:
Eventually, both voters were able to vote for the Republican candidates, as they say they preferred. They said the screen appeared to be poorly calibrated, so that while pressing anywhere in the box for a Democrat registered a vote for the Democrat, only pressing the bottom half of the Republican box did so for the Republican. The only way to make the correct vote, they said, was to press the incorrectly checked box to “uncheck” it, then press low in the Republican’s box. The voters say they were able to figure this out without calling over an election judge for help.
In an article in the Quad City Times published Monday morning, the Democratic clerk for Rock Island County pushed back against the criticisms of her office’s handling of early voting.
Kinney’s office has been the target of a Republican Party attack that not only is she opening ballots early and counting them but that her voting machines are calibrated in such a way that switches votes from Republican to Democrat.
Rock Island County Circuit Judge Lori Lefstein denied the GOP’s emergency injunction on the counting of absentee ballots.
“There is nothing wrong in this office,” Kinney, a Democrat, said afterward.
One of the voters who spoke with me says his attempt to vote for Kinney’s Republican opponent was registered as a vote for Kinney. He eventually voted for the Republican.
Jon Schweppe, a spokesman for the Schilling campaign, says he called an official on the Illinois state board of elections on Friday afternoon about the voters’ complaints.
“I spoke with Bruce Brown at the Illinois State Board of Elections,” Schweppe says. “He called me back about an hour later after speaking with the Rock Island County Clerk’s office. He told me he suggested a full recalibration to fix the problem. He said it was a common problem and easy to fix.”
Kinney told the Times she recalibrated the machines on Friday, though the video above (taken days later, on Monday) suggests that did not fix the problem.
Others in Illinois, where early voting began on October 20, have claimed similar problems with electronic voting machines. One Republican state house candidate in Cook County claimed his attempt to vote for himself was initially regsitered as a vote for his Democratic opponent.