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

Voters need not present identification unless there is some question involving their signature or their signature card has been flagged in advance, officials said.

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.

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 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."

A Plainfield woman reported the same situation at her polling place, Plainfield Fire Station No. 3, 25001 W. 119th St. 

"Everyone had to show ID," said the woman, a first-time Illinois voter who asked not to be identified. "I did not witness someone NOT showing ID ... There were at least 20 to 25 people up there when I just went, and every person was showing ID, every single one. I watched diligently."

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 to the Will County Clerk's office went unreturned Tuesday morning, but a notice was posted on the clerk's Web site 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.

Interestingly, the issue of voters needing to present identification attracted a lot of attention earlier this year when a voter ID law in Pennsylvania was challenged in court. Supporters said it was a way to ensure that voter fraud does not occur, but critics say it would have disenfranchised many people, particularly minorities and the elderly. A judge struck it down as illegal last month.

Last week, Illinois Attorney General Lisa 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.

john bruno November 06, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Another example why the Federal government should take control of all election functions during Federal elections....Would stop this nonsense and the nonsense in Ohio; Colorado and Florida.....by all of the Republican state office-holders.
Brad Engle November 06, 2012 at 10:44 PM
If one has to show ID in order to register what is the big problem showing it at the time you go to vote? To not have to show it invites fraud. Are you afraid you will only be able to vote once under your own name?
Shane McKenna November 07, 2012 at 12:07 AM
On the subject, I also voted at the Wedgewood Golf Course and I was SURPRISED they did NOT ask me for my ID. what is to stop someone from voting as me before me or showing up as me in the event I don't vote? Why do they NOT ask for ID 100% of the time?
john bruno November 07, 2012 at 01:40 AM
Gees....didn't you have to sign your name which they then matched against your permanent record? That was enough. Brad and Shane....you two are mopes with attitude for no reason.
Kristin Johnson November 07, 2012 at 03:27 AM
After presenting my voters card so they could look up my ballot slip, they still questioned my signature. I was asked for my ID and presented it not knowing I'm not required too. I didn't take offense to it at all. Just like a credit card, I don't mind that a clerk or judge verified that I actually am the person in front of them. Reality is... We do live in a world of identity theft. Since it has happened to two of my friends.. I don't think you can be too careful.

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