For Immediate Release
Kevin Hsia, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago
Kimberly Leung, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago
For Immediate Release
CHICAGO, IL — June 28, 2022 – Illinois voters went to the polls today to pick their party’s nominees for federal, state, and local offices for the Nov. 8 general election. Advancing Justice | Chicago’s team of staff and volunteer poll watchers, in total, visited 119 Chicago precincts and 58 Suburban Cook County precincts between 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
The goal of our poll monitoring program is to ensure that all eligible voters can cast their ballots without interference, with a particular focus on historically-disenfranchised communities like Asian Americans and immigrants. Our poll watchers monitor for compliance with language access and other requirements.
Thanks to our poll watchers we were able to ensure timely resolution for certain issues. For example, at a precinct in Uptown, where Hindi election materials are required, our poll watcher reported no translated signage outside the polling place in the morning. The Chicago Board of Elections responded by placing the appropriate signage by the afternoon. In another instance, our poll watcher stationed at a precinct in Des Plaines discovered that the location did not have any paper ballots in Korean, even though Korean election materials are required under local ordinance. As a result of the poll watcher’s report, the Cook County Clerk’s Office was directed to have those ballots delivered.
Other more complicated issues, however, do not lend themselves to expedient solutions. In both Chicago and Suburban Cook County, our poll watchers observed serious staffing shortages. Overall, this election cycle saw a common theme of too few bilingual election judges for Section 203 and Cook County VOTE Ordinance-required languages. While most polling places should ideally have five poll workers, many poll watchers today saw only three or four, with one person or no one proficient in the designated Section 203 language. For future election cycles, more recruitment is needed to address staffing shortages.
In one notable report, one of Advancing Justice | Chicago’s volunteer poll watcher provided interpretation for a voter because the polling place did not have a Cantonese-speaking election judge present. The voter was almost turned away due to confusion during the registration process, in addition to connectivity issues with the Chicago Board of Election’s language hotline. Poll watchers promote transparency and language equity at polling places – sometimes with only their presence alone.
In the coming months, Advancing Justice | Chicago will publish a report that provides a summary of the issues our poll watchers encountered on Election Day, as well as recommendations for the Chicago and Cook County election authorities. Poll watchers play a vital role in ensuring fair elections. Thank you to our staff and volunteer poll watchers, and our sponsors, the Asian American Bar Association, Chinese American Bar Association, Filipino American Lawyers Association, Korean American Bar Association, and South Asian American Bar Association of Chicago.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago builds power through collective advocacy and organizing to achieve racial equity. Learn more at www.advancingjustice-chicago.org.