Cook County Clerk David Orr and Chicago Board of Elections Chairman Langdon Neal launched a major voter education drive today that will emphasize proper voting technique, highlight new voting procedures and promote voter rights leading up to the March 19 primary.
Joining Orr and Neal were representatives from various voting, business, religious, community and civic groups as well as officials from the Democratic and Republican parties that will take part in the effort.
"We all share a common goal in protecting the rights of voters and providing them with the best opportunity to cast an error-free ballot," Orr said. "Building confidence among voters will reduce polling place confusion and errors and ultimately result in a more accurate vote count."
Chairman Neal said, "In Chicago, we intend to reach out to high schools, churches, senior citizen centers, and every single household to explain the new voting procedures for next March, and to alert voters to the fact that if they make a mistake in voting, they will get a second chance.
"In every city polling place, we will have a continuous playing video that will give voters a review on how to vote and screen their ballots."
The voter education component consists of two parts:
Demonstrating how to properly make selections and cast a valid vote. The election authorities and the groups will provide detailed instruction to demonstrate how to: properly insert the ballot card into the vote recorder before making selections; correctly use the stylus to make selections; and accurately examine the ballot after voting to ensure that the ballot will be counted the way the voter intended.
What to expect when using the new error-detection technology. New procedures taking effect in the March primary will give voters the opportunity to have their ballots scanned for possible errors (overvotes and undervotes), providing them a "second chance" to correct mistakes before leaving the polling place. Also, voters – not the election judge – will insert their ballots themselves into the ballot tabulating machine.
Using error-detection technology will give voters the best possible chance of casting a mistake-free ballot and allowing the voter to insert his or her ballot card into the ballot counter will provide added ballot security and voter privacy.
The voter rights component will emphasize safeguarding the legal and constitutional rights of each voter.
Empowering voters with this knowledge through a Voters’ Bill of Rights and information on where to turn if problems occur will prevent against intimidation and disenfranchisement.
The coalition’s voter education/rights projects will include:
- Distributing the Voters’ Bill of Rights before the election and posting it inside every polling place on Election Day.
- Providing on-site demonstrations to teach proper voting technique and explain voting procedures at schools and churches and to civic, community and political groups.
- Distributing how-to-vote brochures and mailing them to each voter.
- Targeting first-time and future voters through school-based instructional programs, including mock elections, registration drives and recruitment of election judges.
- Distributing instructional how-to-vote videos.
- Airing public service announcements.
- Creating user-friendly, graphically enhanced signs in polling places.
- Improving election judge training and overhauling the election judge manual to better assist voters and solve problems on Election Day.
- Increasing Election Day staff to respond to problems or complaints in polling places.
- Setting up a hotline for voters who have registration or election-related questions prior to and on Election Day.
- Showing voters how and where they can: register to vote; access a sample ballot; and gather information about candidates.