During the November 2010 election a series of irregularities, for lack of a better term, were noted during the Early Voting cycle. The Chicago Republican Party instituted an inquiry as some of the irregularities were reported by Republican election judges, poll watchers, and voters.
Some of the irregularities included foreign nationals working in the polling place, handling voter materials, and assisting voters. While these are legal immigrants, they are not U.S. Citizens. Another irregularity was the inability of some poll workers to understand and speak English properly. Of course there were the usual workers who were were not competent.
The audit was led by Sharon Meroni, an independent researcher. Ms. Meroni conducted the inquiry into the Early Vote problems and made extensive use of the FOIA system. A letter was sent detailing the irregularities to the Chicago Board of Elections by Eloise Gerson, Chairman of the Chicago Republican Party. The Board has yet to respond.
Out of this investigation, FOIA requests, and a spot audit of several wards during the Municipal Elections it was determined that an organization focusing on ballot integrity needed to be formed.
Defend the Vote was established by attorney Steve Boulton and Sharon Meroni with the sole purpose to empower citizens to protect elections. According to Mr. Boulton, Defend the Vote is a non-partisan non-profit corporation devoted strictly to ballot integrity.
Mr. Boulton claims there has been significant interest in ballot integrity across the six county metropolitan area. Ms. Meroni has appeared before various civic and political groups. They have expressed excitement over the issue and expressed interest in getting involved. Defend the Vote is attempting to generate that same level of excitement in the city of Chicago.
Various ballot integrity groups have been formed over the decades, found irregularities and even open vote fraud. Though publicized very little was done, except for minor changes. The Boards of Elections usually blame employees and election judges for issues or not following procedures. They are sacrificed.
Mr. Boulton believes there is an endemic problem with the ballot process and the needed corrections are not complicated. The real problem is a lack of diligence by the various Boards of Election over their employees and judges on election days.
Defend the Vote is not dedicated to any political agenda or principle other than fairer and better elections in Illinois for all citizens of whatever party. It will implement audits, poll watching, poll watcher training, and election judge training programs.
It will also continue the ongoing investigations of voting procedures and equipment. A major focus will be the increasing use of touch screen electronic voting equipment in Illinois, which some contend can be easily manipulated for vote fraud.
A second focus will be to conduct a statewide audit of polling places in 2012 using voters across the state as poll watcher /auditors. Such data can expose existing problems. Solutions can be mandated to insure a cleaner election process.
For more information go to their website- www.defendthevote.com.