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Rahm Calls Seven-Hour Lines for Same-Day Voting 'Unacceptable'

By Ted Cox | November 5, 2014 4:49pm
 Welles Park staff used gym equipment to create a queue area for same-day registrant voters.
Welles Park staff used gym equipment to create a queue area for same-day registrant voters.
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DNAinfo/Patty Wetli

CITY HALL — The mayor called for needed reforms after those taking advantage of a new state program, allowing them to register and vote on Election Day, spent several hours in lines at five city locations Tuesday.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel called it "unacceptable" and said he expected the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners to study what went wrong and fix it before the next election.

Emanuel and Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) both visited voters in long lines at Welles Park in Lincoln Square Tuesday night, technically after polls had closed. Pawar brought in pizzas, while Emanuel said Wednesday he told voters, "I want to commend you for your persistence. It should not be this way."

According to Emanuel, there were only three voting booths at the facility, and those who got in line at 2:30 p.m. didn't cast their votes until 9:30 p.m. The last person voted at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday.

"Three voting booths for 800 people is totally inadequate," Emanuel said.

He said the problems were caused by the program being hastily implemented, as it was only passed by the General Assembly in July. Clearly, he added, the election board was caught off guard by the response at all five of its sites for same-day registration and voting.

"So the Board of Election has some homework," Emanuel said, to prepare for the municipal election Feb. 24.

Emanuel emphasized that the issue of "bogus" robocalls to judges, which disrupted voting in polling places citywide, was completely separate, saying, "What happened with the robocalls was intentional."

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