Archive for the '2014 Primary Election' Category

March, 2014 Primary Election Issues

Two questions frequently asked about Incorrect Election Results Trigger County Wide Recount:

HOW ARE VOTES COUNTED ON ELECTION DAY?

All votes in Champaign County are recorded on paper ballots, which are machine scanned and tabulated. Each tabulating machine accounts for every ballot processed, reports results for each precinct assigned to it, and records for all contests in that precinct the valid votes counted, the invalid over-votes rejected, and any blank (under-votes) ignored for that contest. This information is recorded on the same sealed computer memory device which contains information required by the tabulator, especially the electronic descriptions of the various ballot styles assigned to that machine. After the polls close, the machine prints paper reports immediately for retention by the judges of election and any authorized poll-watchers. The judges of election (who are appointed by the Chairs of the two leading established parties) then remove the memory device and paper ballots, seal them in the presence of the poll-watchers, and immediately transport them to the Election Authority (in Champaign County, that is the County Clerk). There, under the supervision of the Authority, teams of election judges and workers from both parties receive, process, and store the election materials. The memory devices are read by a computer which uses software certified by the State Board of Elections to aggregate the data and produce the unofficial election results released on election night. The memory devices and paper ballots are sealed and secured to await any post-processing required. This includes machine re-tabulations and manual ballot counts on machines randomly selected by the State Board of Elections.

WHAT HAPPENED IN MARCH 2014?

The basic procedures above worked well in Champaign County throughout the era of punch cards (“chad” to the contrary notwithstanding), and, until now, were remarkably efficient with the current generation scanner technology. On March 18, 2014, the process was completed around 10pm, and the unofficial results produced at that time seemed plausible to everyone at the processing center. Of course, attention was focused on the critical races on both partisan ballots. It was morning before the irregularities in minor contests were identified. Then followed the events described in our post, which were widely reported in the press.

On Monday, March 24, the Clerk determined that the issues were isolated to the bottom of the Democratic Primary Ballot, and that by re-programming the tabulators with ballot definitions properly synchronized with the paper ballots, then re-processing all the Democratic Primary ballots, all symptoms would disappear. After the recount, updated unofficial results were posted, and he reassured voters that “we just went through a monumental effort to reissue these to make sure they’re 100 percent accurate”, and that new procedures would preclude these issues from recurring in the future. On April 1, the outstanding absentee and provisional ballots were absorbed, and the official results were proclaimed by posting them to the Champaign County Clerk’s official website and transmitting them to the State Board of Elections, as required by law. The Board will conduct its own certification procedures and incorporate Champaign County results with those from other counties by Friday, April 28, 2014.

Watch videos. Make choices. VOTE NOW!

Here are links to videos of forums featuring all contested Democratic races in the March 18, 2014 primary election in Champaign County. Each candidate name is linked to a resource for campaign information.

VOTING IS UNDERWAY – MAKE YOUR DECISIONS AND VOTE TODAY! Follow this link to the Election Authority for details.

*Note that the two candidates in BOLDFACE have been ENDORSED (read why) by the Champaign County Democrats.

13th Congressional District (VIDEO)
Republicans Michael Firsching, Erika Harold
Democrats Ann Callis, George Gollin, David Green (starts at 57 minutes)

103rd State Represeentative District (VIDEO)
Democrats Carol Ammons, Samuel Rosenberg.

Champaign County Board (VIDEO) (All are Democrats)
District 6: Tony Fabri, Pattsi Petrie
District 7: Alan Kurtz, *PIUS WEIBEL (starts at 30 minutes)
District 9: *SHANA HARRISON , Ralph Langenheim (starts at 57 minutes)
District 11: Lorraine Cowart, Brent West (starts at 83 minutes)

These candidate forums were sponsored in February, 2014 by the Champaign County League of Women Voters, the NAACP, and the News-Gazette. They were recorded at the Champaign City Council chambers, and are broadcast on local cable television. The Champaign County Democrats thank these organizations for producing these events.

Weibel and Harrison for County Board

The Champaign County Democratic Party has endorsed C. PIUS WEIBEL (District 7) and SHANA JO HARRISON (District 9) as our preferred candidates in their districts for Champaign County Board in the March 18 Democratic primary election. The endorsement motion from the party’s Executive Board was presented and approved unanimously at the Wednesday, February 22 regular meeting of the Central Committee. No other endorsements in any other races were recommended to the committee.

Party endorsements in primary elections, while routine in much of Illinois, are rare in Champaign County. Discussion of the motion focused on two reasons for the committee to break precedent and endorse these two candidates at this time:

First, this action supports the Champaign County voters who have elected Democratic majorities on the County Board every two years for more than a decade. The incumbents in Districts 7 and 9 engaged in a back-room leadership deal with the Republicans in 2012. Their arrangement certainly suited the individuals involved, but it betrayed the trust of the voters who elected them and their Democratic colleagues elsewhere in the county. The County Democratic Party has a duty to support all Democratic voters and to deter such self-serving maneuvers in the future. We are confident that Mr. Weibel and Ms. Harrison will work with Republican board members to support the best interests of all Champaign County residents, regardless of party affiliation. We are confident also that if the voters choose to elect a Democratic County Board majority, Mr. Weibel and Ms. Harrison will respect that choice, and will work with the Democratic caucus to organize the the board and set its agenda.

Second, we believe Mr. Weibel and Ms. Harrison are progressive Democrats who will more effectively represent their districts. Pius Weibel is an experienced board member with a solid (and bipartisan) record of leadership. Shana Harrison, former President of the UIUC Illini Democrats, works with Champaign County organized labor and understands well the largely young and diverse residents of District 9.

The Party’s by-laws have allowed us to endorse candidates in primary elections since 2006. However, local Democrats have refrained from doing so until now. Many if not most of us prefer that the Party and its Chair never get involved in any primaries, and this is a first for us. Our unanimous decision signifies that we believe the stakes are just too high for us to sit quietly on the sidelines for these two races in this election.

Alvin G. Klein
Chair, Champaign County Democrats