November 7, 2004

Problems disrupt Hyde Park votes

Chicago students and faculty reported minor problems voting in Tuesday's presidential election, including overcrowding at some polling places and the refusal of some residents to cast full ballots.

But an elections monitor, the honorable Chris Coordes, Fifth Ward Republican committeeman and a fourth-year in the College, said there were no problems reported from the election judges in Hyde Park.

When Anna Wainwright, a fourth-year in the College who lives at 54th street and Woodlawn Avenue, attempted to vote at 5200 South University Avenue, she was forced to use a provisional ballot because the address on her driver's license didn't match her voter registration card. Wainwright was voting with her roommate, Nasia Anam, who had cast her 2000 presidential ballot in Hyde Park, so the pair knew they were allowed to cast a regular ballot.

"Our names were in the signature book, and the precinct number was listed in our cards, as well as the address of the polling place," Wainwright said, confirming that she was in the correct polling place and was registered to vote.

Wainwright, who had been told that all she needed was a photo ID or an envelope with proof of address, said she offered to run home to pick up an envelope, but the election judge refused.

"As we all sensed that the judge was wrong, we voted by provisional ballot and left," she said.

Wainwright later called Toni Preckwinkle, the alderman for the Fourth Ward, who confirmed that the judge, a Democrat, was incorrect and went to the polling place to investigate.

Wainwright called the Chicago Board of Elections and was told that she should have been able to vote by regular ballot, she said. "They called the judge at my polling place on the other line and she said that I had not had the correct voter registration card," Wainwright said, adding that this was not true.

Wainwright went back to the polling place with Anam, though the two "were made to feel very uncomfortable" about voting, she said. "One of the judges rolled his eyes and asked Nasia if she had anything better to do with her day, and people in line started heckling us. [The election judge] would not answer me when I asked if we would be able to vote. The atmosphere was too uncomfortable, and so we left."

The two traveled to the Board of Elections office on Washington Street, where officials said the two should have been able to vote by regular ballot.

Another problem some Hyde Parkers experienced was overcrowding. Mathematics professor George Glauberman said the 27th precinct's polling place, located at the Ray School, was swamped. "When I arrived about 11:30 a.m., there were short lines for all the other precincts, but a very long line for mine. It took about 45 minutes before I got a chance to vote," he said.

Glauberman said he heard the situation was similar during most of the day, unlike all his previous voting experiences between 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.

"Some people thought that the reason was that the Palevsky dorm was added to this precinct and increased the number of voters from about 400 to about 800," he said.