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Residents Say They Were Asked for ID Before Voting, in Violation of the Law

It's against the law for election judges to be asked for identification before someone's allowed to vote. To register a complaint, call 815-727-8872.

Last updated: 3:50 p.m. Nov. 6.

At least two Will County voters say they were asked to present an ID before being allowed to vote today, even though Illinois law prohibits election judges from requesting identification.

Debbie, who asked that her last name not be used, said she observed numerous voters being asked to show ID at her polling place, Plainfield Fire Station #3, 25001 W. 119th St. 

"Everyone had to show ID," she said, noting it was her first time voting in Illinois. "I did not witness someone NOT showing ID ... There were at least 20-25 people up there when I just went, and every person was showing ID, every single one. I watched diligently."

Joliet resident Caroline Hoag said every voter she observed at her Wedgewood Golf Course polling place was asked for identification, and the election judge even refused to pull Hoag's signature card when she balked at the need to show an ID before being allowed to vote.

"I said, I think you're not supposed to do that, but she said she was," Hoag said.

Hoag, upset by the action, notified the Will County clerk's office, and was told by the woman who answered the phone that she'd notify her boss. The woman who answered the Will County state's attorney's office election fraud hot line told Hoag she wasn't sure the election judge's action was illegal, but that they would send someone to investigate.

(To report unusual activity at a polling place, call the Will County State's Attorney's Office voter fraud hot line at 815-727-8872.)

Hoag worries that voters may have been turned away before being allowed to cast their ballots because they didn't have identification with them.

"Who knows how many people weren't allowed to vote because of this," she said. "I've been voting there for six years, and I've never been asked for an ID.

Chuck Pelkie, spokesman for the Will County state's attorney's office, said the hot line had received just one call about the voters being asked to present identification. He said the county clerk's office had informed the election judges that they should stop.

Otherwise, the hot line had received about 28 calls about possible polling place infractions. Most involved such issues as poll watchers standing too close to people verifying signatures or asking for the names of voters. In each case, an investigative team was dispatched to the polling place to resolve any issues, he said.

Calls and messages from Patch to the Will County Clerk's office went unreturned Tuesday morning, but a notice was posted on the clerk's website stressing to voters that they should not have to present ID to vote on election day.

"This is due to the fact that you already provided ID at the time you registered to vote," the notice stated. "Once the Election Judge locates your ballot application and verifies the address provided, the application is given to the voter to sign their name above the facsimile signature. The Election Judges will carefully compare your handwritten signature to the facsimile. They are not expected to be experts at handwriting verification, but they should see visual similarities between the two."

There is an exception for early voting. 

"For those voters who will take advantage of voting early, Illinois law does require you to show a government issued ID with your name and current address on it," according to the clerk's office.

But on election day itself, voters can only be asked for ID if:

  • the signature does not match  
  • there is no signature on file 
  • the words “SHOW ID” appear on your ballot application  

While photo ID is required for early voting, no one can be turned away from the polls on election day for lack of photo ID.

“If you are asked for a photo ID, it’s not required, but do not leave your precinct if you’re asked for that,” State Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, told CBS.

While a photo ID is not required, some voters — including first-time voters or voters who have been inactive — can be asked for a form of identification such as a Social Security card, employee ID, utility bill, bank statement, pay stub, library card, credit card or voter registration card.

Voters seeking more information on their voting rights were urged to call the Will County Clerk's Office's election department at 815-740-4794. Calls from Patch to that number also went unanswered Tuesday.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan also said she wants to make sure Illinoisans have access to the polls today.

Last week, Madigan urged voters who encounter suspected improper or illegal activity to contact her office.

In Chicago and northern Illinois, voters can call 866-536-3496 to report voting irregularities.

Madigan also reminded voters of their basic rights at the polls:

  • Voters have the right to vote if they are in line when the polls close at 7 p.m. or at any other time between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Election Day
  • If a voter makes a mistake or “spoils” a paper ballot and the voter has not cast the ballot, the voter has the right to receive a replacement ballot
  • If a voter cannot read, has trouble understanding English, or has a disability, that voter has the right to request assistance from anyone other than his or her employer, an agent of his or her employer, or an officer or agent of his or her union
  • Voters have the right to take unpaid time from work to vote, but no more than two successive hours, as long as they have applied with their employer before Election Day. The employer may set the time of day
  • No one is allowed to try to influence a voter within 100 feet of the polling place

Voters should also keep in mind that although the polls close at 7 p.m., they shouldn’t be deterred by long lines. As long as you are in line by 7 p.m., you should be allowed to vote, Madigan said.

Have you experienced any difficulties or irregularities at the polls? Tell us in the comments.

Agrippina Minor November 06, 2012 at 06:43 PM
I was just required to show ID at Precinct 21 (Wedgewood Golf Course, Joliet). I questioned them, but they refused to even look me up without seeing my driver's license.
Patch reader November 06, 2012 at 06:55 PM
I gave them my ID without anyone asking. It is easier than spelling it out and having the lady search and search. I still don't see why we shouldn't show an ID to vote.
Steve Harris November 06, 2012 at 07:24 PM
You can not buy Alcohol, buy Cigarettes or board a plane without an I.D. , But if you want to vote come on in ,no I.D. needed.
ScienceTeach November 06, 2012 at 07:32 PM
I just handed them my ID out of habit of identifying myself. They had the wrong spelling of my name so it was good they saw it cause I might not had checked. Oh and my signature looks NOTHING like the one on the form. Can someone nicely explain to me why we do not need a photo ID to vote? I need it for less important tasks.
Cathy November 06, 2012 at 07:40 PM
No ID required or asked for at the Plainfield Park Dist on Ottawa Street.
Momfor4 November 06, 2012 at 07:52 PM
If you were told to show ID and you knew you didn't have to, then you should have corrected them and JUST STOOD THERE until they looked up you name and handed you your ballot. Another suggestion would be to ask them to show you in the Election Judge Handbook where it says ID is suppose to be shown. (a woman at my polling place had some official book)....make the judge prove it to you!!...not the other way around!!
Carol Palac November 06, 2012 at 07:54 PM
I thought we had to show proof?!?!?!
Holli Long November 06, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Depends on the state. In IL, photo ID is not required at polling stations. (You can see which states require what type of ID here - http://www.ncsl.org/legislatures-elections/elections/voter-id.aspx) However, to *register* to vote, you need the ID. (See http://www.elections.il.gov/Downloads/ElectionInformation/PDF/registervote.pdf) One example of a voter without a photo ID may be a senior who is no longer able to drive/ does not have a current drivers license. However, since they are already registered (having shown appropriate ID when registering) they can vote.
Joel Craig November 06, 2012 at 11:15 PM
It's because we verify our identity when we register (either by ID or birth certificate and proof of residence). Not everyone carries a government-issued, photo ID (we don't all drive, etc.) and they cost money. While you need an ID to make certain purchases in this state (as mentioned below), those are individual choices. Voting is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution and requiring the purchase of anything in order to vote can be considered a poll tax and is unconstitutional.
cindy heidkamp November 07, 2012 at 03:12 PM
My husband was harassed and asked for 2 forms of ID before he was allowed to vote in Mokena. I also observed the same election judge harassing the woman in front of me. He told her he "didn't like" the spelling of her name and she couldn't vote. I spoke up and told him he couldn't say that. He said "i have the power to do that." People like this MUST be stopped. CHeidkamp
Ed Arter November 07, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Registered Voters have their documented signature on file. That voter needed to sign in to show that their election day signature matched the signature on file. Should the two signatures not match, the judges asked for a picture ID. Out of 700 voters at a certian polling place only 8 had signatures were mismatched.
Mike Keniley November 09, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Many voters on Election Day voluntarily handed over their ids...some didn't. The election judges, both Democrat & Republican in my precinct did not ask an id from the voters. They knew the law and respected it...they did their jobs. Kudos to them.
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