“You know damn well our votes are being stolen. This is voter suppression,” declared Olga Lory Gomez three minutes into the video below.
Five Chicago residents, including Olga Lory Gomez Gutierrez, wanted to vote in the Republican primary which is their choice, but the precinct judge didn’t want to give her the proper ballot, and the poll workers at her precinct did little more useful than tell her that photography is a crime to chase them away after they wasted a morning finding a ballot.
Gutierrez compiled five short videos on Facebook into the ten-minute report you can see below from Chicago’s 10th, Precinct in Ward 22 at Joseph E. Gary Elementary School.
Illinois has an unusual open primary system too, where voters must declare their party and then choose their ballot at their polling place. It’s kind of a hybrid, since a traditional open primary has one ballot for all voters.
This voting nightmare happened because Illinois voters must “declare” their choice of ballot at the precinct, unlike other voting systems where ballots are decided in advance by party registration.
It would also allow a registered democrat to hop into a republican race to vote for or against their candidate of choice, and vice versa.
Gutierrez doesn’t say – and its impossible to tell from the video – which party she’s registered within, nor does she mention any specific candidate whom she supports.
It shouldn’t matter either.
The first few minutes of video depict five voters, including Gutierrez, having a conversation mostly in Spanish with poll workers.
Later on Facebook, Gomez explained that she is of Guatemalan ancestry, as well as a native tongue English speaker as you can see in the video below.
The poll workers were a mix of English and Spanish speakers, and the arguments between the group of flustered voters and mostly clueless poll workers went back and forth in both languages, and in Spanglish – the mix of English and Spanish we usually only hear spoken at PINAC News headquarters in Miami.
“Cuando trabajo acqui,” she said in Spanish ‘when I worked here’, “being a voting precinct judge, this was not allowed.”
The video is actually a compilation, and at the 4:24 mark the poll judge says in Spanish that he’s not doing anything illegal, while holding multiple ballots.
“I’m not going to work until this gets done,” said Gutierrez, “we all got up early, and we all have to go to work, and I’m not leaving until this is done.”
“So you don’t have any [ballots] for republican candidates?” asked the camera man in Spanish.
“Todo esta acqui,” said the precinct judge in spanish, as in ‘everything is here’ meaning, there’s no republican ballot.
Clearly, the holes in an open primary system without a prior declaration come into sharp focus after seeing this not-entirely-clear video.
Naming partial persons as “Precinct Judges” and naming persons who aren’t bi-lingual seems to present an obvious problem in the political process.
Welcome to the rough and tumble world of Chi-town politics
The phrase, “Vote Early, Vote Often!” isn’t just a joke in Chicago, but practically the town motto.
And enshrined in its state’s Constitution.
In 2014, Illinois legislators in complete agreement – save for five republican legislators – placed a voting rights amendment onto the ballot to replace protections lost when the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 was gutted by a Supreme Court ruling presciently declaring that racism in politics was dead.
The Constitutional amendment passed with 64 percent of the vote, ironically with 10 percent of voters who cast ballots abstaining, and says this:
|SECTION 8. VOTER DISCRIMINATION
No person shall be denied the right to register to vote or to cast a ballot in an election based on race, color, ethnicity, status as a member of a language minority, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or income.
But denial of the vote based on party – oddly – wasn’t added to the Illinois Constitution.
Gutierrez and her friends’ persistence paid off, as the indifferent precinct judge bothered himself to actually look inside a closet, which was right behind the gentleman filming the fiasco, where he found a stack of un-opened ballots, but it was not the right stack.
Incredibly, the precinct judge said that it didn’t make a difference which party primary they voted in, there was no difference.
“I can’t believe that nobody who works here is outraged. You guys don’t care!” said Gutierrez, to which another poll worker wearing her red sweater and glasses replied, “I’m new here.”
As if that excused her from performing her official duties.
One of the enraged voters said in spanish, “Democrat ballots are here, Republican ballots are hidden.”
The recording descended into chaotic chatter at that point, and the live acoustics of what looks like a high school locker room which housed the polling place make it hard to decipher the numerous cross conversations.
But it’s a good demonstration how the Windy City got its name from the copious amounts of hot air blown by residents, not the icy winds that whip off Lake Michigan.
Of course, those windy Chicago politicians who earned the name were talking up the merits of Chicago, of which navigable and sane politics is not one.
Eight-and-a-half minutes into the video, the poll workers found a republican ballot, and the crowd rejoiced.
And they voted.
And obviously, they did a good job since terrible Cook County District Attorney Anita Alvarez was booted from her office, which oversees Chicago and its surrounding suburbs.
The man recording the debacle said in Spanish that the ballots were in the closet, and that this had happened to him before, and that ‘nobody knows anything.’
In Her Own Words: “I show up at 8 am and they wouldn’t give me a ballot with my candidate and kept saying that’s all they had.”
Olga Lory Gomez Gutierrez had a very bad day, but her recording should prove useful to election authorities.
She left an extensive message for those authorities on her Facebook page, and if they’ve got any sense at all, they should read this word for word, and seek charges against the crooked officials.
They had [the ballots] hidden, and kept telling me there was nothing they could do, and that’s the only ballot they had. When they finally found them, you could tell they knew they got caught. This is disgusting! I could never do this to anyone, no matter what party they were voting for! Chicago is getting worse everyday. This city is terrible. The #ChicagoMachine!!!! They aren’t asking for i.d. either! After we got to vote they hid them, stating that there was no space on the table!!! And then we were told to leave or we would get arrested for taking video. #VoterSuppressionChicago
They had them hidden, and when I said I would not go to work and stay, they found them. What a miracle!!! You can tell in that girl’s smile, she knew what they were doing! Nobody is outraged, they all seem to act dumb. Just because we live in Little Village they think they can take advantage us. Wake up people!!!
After I voted, I came back to find that they hid the ballots, and were NOT allowing my husband to vote. Please, don’t think for a second these people care about your vote, unless you are voting like them.
The #ChicagoMachine right here, people. Tell me they really didn’t know? What a joke this city has become.
After we all voted, I called the board of elections and reported the location. I hang up the call, turn around and the ballots were missing again. When I asked them what was going on, they tell me there is no space on the table. I tell them “The place is a mess…you have space here, and here and here” So they went to get the ballots they conveniently had put on the floor, so no one could see them, therefore suppressing other votes. Lying and saying that they have no other ballots.
But video sanitizes the lies.
That’s why laws that criminalize photography perpetuate corruption.
Gutierrez’s complete statements from Facebook are below.
‘They do this all the time.’
“There’s the Republican ballots,” said Gutierrez, recording them sitting on the floor behind the polling table when someone said that ‘you can get arrested for photography’ inside of the polling place.
So when all else fails to suppress the vote, the precinct workers tried to cancel the First Amendment, ironically by citing Illinois unconstitutional wiretapping law, the same law that was overturned in ACLU vs. Alvarez after years of pointless fighting at taxpayer expense.
“You can’t actually record here,” says the poll worker, “You could get arrested.”
“I have a right,” said Gutierrez calmly, and correctly noting that, “we’re in a public area. I’m not in your house.”
But Gutierrez did take her vote – proverbially – to the house.
She also got her video.
And now the whole world can get a taste of Chicago’s dirty, dirty politics in just ten minutes.
Illinois used to have an absurd wiretapping law, which allowed all manner of shenanigans, and even though it is gone today.
This voter suppression video shows plainly that her citizens still suffer after decades of civil rights abuse.
And some Illinois citizens believe fervently in their rights to silence their fellow man, most especially when performing an official duty for the government.