A perceived undersupply of pens used to fill in ballot choices led to delays and backups at numerous polling places in Oak Park and River Forest earlier this morning. However, officials say any black, blue ballpoint pen can be used to vote.
At numerous precincts visited by Wednesday Journal between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., election judges had been supplied with only four special marker pens, despite the presence of seven optical scanning ballot stations. Several election judges said that the use of regular pens would “invalidate” a ballot. There were reports of some people walking out in frustration without voting.
However, county election officials said Tuesday morning that the problems stemmed from a misunderstanding.”Pens seem to be a problem,” said Board of Elections spokesperson Kelly Quinn. “If that’s the biggest problem we have today, that’ll be fine by us.”
Quinn said that voters can use any black or blue ball point pen to fill in scanned ballots. The only types of pens that shouldn’t be used, Quinn said, are “Sharpies” markers and red ink pens.”The Sharpies cause bleed-through, which will cause the ballot to be rejected,” said Quinn. She insisted that election judges had been told in their training sessions that such alternate types of ballpoint pens could be used.
Just before 9 a.m., County Director of Elections Clem Balanoff sent an e-mail to Oak Park Village Clerk Sandra Sokol outlining which pens could and couldn’t be used to vote.
Read more in the Nov. 8 Wednesday Journal.