Voters are told pen had "invisible ink"

Election judges at a Far North Side Chicago precinct told 20 voters that a non-working voting pen contained "invisible ink."
It's invisible ink, officials said. The scanner will count it.

But their votes weren't recorded after all.

"Part of me was thinking it does sound stupid enough to be true,'' said Amy Carlton, who had serious doubts but went ahead and voted anyway.

As it turns out, Carlton was one of 20 voters at the precinct who were given the wrong pen to use. They were also then told, apparently by a misinformed judge, that the pens have invisible ink, elections officials said.

As a result, the votes were not counted. But officials insisted there were no dirty tricks involved.

Link (Thanks, Kerry!)


  1. wow, seriously amurca, do we need to have the UN police your elections, or what? can’t you guys even do THAT right still?

  2. I can see this happening out of boredom because I’ve worked as an election officer for several years. Some election volunteer was probably joking about the pens at first and then word spread through the line. Our elections are run by local election boards and the quality of training and supervision for volunteer election officers varies widely. Help democracy, volunteer to work as an election officer and see the process from the inside!

  3. From what I understand the pens they were given were for the computer touch screens – in many areas you had a choice of touch screen or paper ballot voting.

  4. Officials at our polling place told my wife not to worry that she wasn’t on the list of registered voters, because “It’s really just a beauty contest” and it’s “not that important”.

  5. What I don’t understand is in Chicago you put your ballot into a device that checks if there are any errors (like missing a contest or failure to fully mark the gap). If the device generates an error, they are supposed to ask the voter if they want to recheck their ballot. None of these people did that?

  6. To solve this problem, the Italian law dictates that only copying pencils can be used.
    When I read of voting machines, pens without inks, non citizens allowed to vote, I’m baffled. In Italy the voting mechanics are hyper-regulated, up to the number of pencils allowed in any polling station (three) or the number of election officials (five or six, depending on the election).

  7. Those evil Rethuglicans! This would never happen with Democrats!

    Oh, wait…

    This is the Democratic machine city where voting rights are so valued they’re even exercised postmortem.

  8. @Takuan
    Would that be Hanging Chad?

    This reminds me of the story out of LV… At one caucus location, the precinct captain for Clinton was also temporary caucus chair. She told voters that they could only sign in if they were supporting Hillary – and even went so far as to precheck the preference cards she dispensed with a check mark in Clinton’s box!

    Eventually, a party official showed up and returned the caucus to order, but I wonder how many voters left frustrated that they couldn’t vote their conscience because of one power-hungry moron. I thought we left this kind of stuff to the conservatives.

    (The details are from an article in the 2/11 issue of The Nation, but the link is subscriber only…)

  9. From the Chicago Tribune story:

    “I’m incredibly angry, and I feel so dumb,” said Amy Carlton, 38, of Rogers Park. “And I am not a dumb person.”

    Carlton said all the judges at the polling place insisted that they had been trained in the use of the “magic” pens.

    “I’ve voted before,” Carlton said. “I was thinking, ‘This is crazy,’ but when someone in authority insists, what are you supposed to do?”

  10. They were trained in the use of the magic pens huh? Next they’ll be trained on the magic moving picture box with the little people inside. But don’t take their pictures, they get really upset because they believe you’ve stolen their souls.

  11. In France, you just put the paper with the name of the candidate you choose into a letter and then into a glass box. And that it: no pen, no computers (some citys try to introduce electronic voting, i hope it will fail), no need to push some strange card … with a 60 millions population, the results are known a few hours later.
    So why made it more complicated ?

  12. Because in San Francisco, for example, there are so many ballot initiatives that the Voter Information Pamphlet can run to 300 pages. One election in the 90s, there were about 40 measures on the ballot. The ballot itself can be a large multi-page document. Direct democracy is messy and complex. We don’t just vote for candidates. At the state and local levels, we vote for laws, bond issues, constitutional amendments. Plus, you vote for President, Governor, US Senate, Congress, State Senate and Representatives, judges, school board, sheriff, dog catcher. It goes on.

  13. Epic fail.

    You guys must have a great education system to turn out these winners. “Perfect storm of ignorance” indeed.

  14. Here in Brazil we have electronic voting since 1996, and it works fine. There are 125 million voters here, many of them living in isolated areas, and the results of the election come out in the same day. The voting machine has also reduced fraud in the elections.

    So, a nice system to elect these incredible representatives we have.

  15. Bush & the neocons worked really hard to bring us a new form of voter confusion & elimination. In past elections we had hanging chads in Florida and a questionable lack of voting machines in minority populated districts in Ohio – 2008 is the year they will make the swing voter irrelevant. I voted in California and was told that I was listed as a member of another party forcing me to vote with a provisional ballot. Basically this means my vote needs to be verified before it can be counted – because THEY have incorrect info I have been silenced. CNN was calling the election before the polls even closed. Am I to believe my vote that has not even been counted is valid. There are MANY MANY voters in California AND other states that have been forced to vote using a provisional ballot. The msm under-reports this and state officials just bitch that it would be too costly to do a recount. So look out world…..the neocons are working really hard to spend trillions of our tax dollars bringing democracy to your doorstep.

  16. There are 125 million voters here, many of them living in isolated areas, and the results of the election come out in the same day.

    Which suggests that, if there’s no material reason for our elections to be so messed up, somebody is messing them up on purpose. And who still goes to the polls? Become a permanent absentee voter. You get weeks of leisure to fill out your ballot in the comfort and privacy of your own boudoir.

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