For Immediate Release
Kevin Hsia, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago
Kimberly Leung, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago
For Immediate Release
CHICAGO, IL — November 8, 2022 – Illinois voters went to the polls today to elect their governor, junior U.S. senator, and 17 of Illinois’ representatives in the U.S. Congress, and other key races and issues.
Advancing Justice | Chicago dispatched a team of staff and volunteer poll watchers to 96 precincts and three vote centers in Chicago, and 103 precincts in Suburban Cook County. Our poll watching program focuses on monitoring precincts where there are high number of Asian voters with limited English proficiency (LEP). “Most of the precincts that we monitor are designated as protected precincts under Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act,” said Kimberly Leung, Voting Rights Legal Fellow at Advancing Justice | Chicago. Because of the recent precinct consolidation in Chicago, we decided to expand the scope of our poll watching program to cover additional locations not covered under Section 203, out of concern that LEP voters at certain polling places may not be getting the in-language assistance they need.
In addition to poll watching, we sent interpreters to certain precincts to help voters who want assistance. Bharat Sharma, ISP community organizer at Advancing Justice | Chicago, who speaks Hindi, Gujarati, and Urdu, spent his afternoon greeting and helping voters at Warren Park in West Ridge. “I was surprised and inspired to see so many first time, immigrant voters,” Sharma said, “It was my privilege to be part of their voting experience.”
A likely consequence of the recent precinct consolidation, Advancing Justice | Chicago poll watchers also observed voters at the wrong polling place across Chicago. Anticipating this situation, our poll watchers were trained and equipped to direct voters to their correct polling place or vote center.
In suburban Cook County, Advancing Justice poll watchers not only monitored for compliance with Section 203 but also for the Vote Opportunity and Translation Equity (VOTE) Ordinance, which was unanimously passed in October 2019. The Ordinance expands the number of languages that suburban Cook County ballots and voting material must be translated into. “Though the passage of the VOTE Ordinance was a significant step, our poll watchers observed that compliance remains spotty,” said Leung. Many of our poll watchers in suburban Cook County observed missing translated signages. Additionally, many of the precincts that were supposed to have bilingual poll workers did not. The issues observed in suburban Cook County underscore the importance of community engagement, and continued investment in language access.
Thanks to Advancing Justice | Chicago staff and volunteer poll watchers, we were able to monitor over 95 percent of the designated Asian language precincts in Chicago and Cook County. In December, Advancing Justice will share a summary of our Election Day findings with the Cook County Clerk’s Office and the Chicago Board of Election with the goal of strengthening meaningful access for future elections.
Poll watchers play a vital role in ensuring fair elections. Thank you to our staff and volunteer poll watchers, and our partners and sponsors, including Arab American Family Services, Enlivant, Asian American Bar Association, Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community (CBCAC), Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment (AFIRE), and South Asian American Policy & Research Institute (SAAPRI).
Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago builds power through collective advocacy and organizing to achieve racial equity. Learn more at www.advancingjustice-chicago.org.