The two-week early voting period at Brookfield Village Hall for the 2020 presidential election was nothing less than record-setting, but it ended on a controversial note on Nov. 2, when county election judges locked the village hall doors at 7 p.m. with people still waiting outside in line to vote.
Brookfield Village Clerk Brigid Weber, whose office is not responsible for early voting, confirmed that Cook County election judges turned away “several” people waiting in line outside. Those in line inside the building reportedly were allowed to vote.
“I was told that a Cook County employee said they needed to wash down all the machines and get ready for [Election Day on] Tuesday,” Weber said. “They should not have done that. I think they just wanted to leave.”
Asked for an estimate of how many people were denied a chance to vote Monday night, Weber said she was told about six or seven. However, Matt Uhlar, who was one of those lin line when the doors were locked, said there were “over 20. At least 10 right behind me.”
The Cook County Clerk’s Office is in charge of recruiting and training election judges. Part of that training includes prospective judges receiving a handbook laying out all of the rules to be followed.
On page 179 of the handbook given to judges working early voting polling places, it clearly states, “Anyone in line when Early Voting ends for the day has a right to cast their ballot and MUST be allowed to vote.
“If you think that you will remain open past closing time, please contact the Early Voting Call Center before closing time or send a Live Help message.
“DO NOT start daily closing procedures until the last voter has completed their vote.”
A Cook County Clerk spokeswoman did not return an email from the Landmark seeking information about the circumstances surrounding the closure of the Brookfield site Monday night.
However, the spokeswoman did confirm to the Chicago Tribune that “eight to 10” suburban early voting locations had been closed Monday night with people still waiting in line. Brookfield was not specifically identified as one of those sites, but a social media post on the Brookfield Connections Facebook group page confirmed the incident.
The mother of one voter said her son was inside the village hall and had been allowed to vote. Uhlar, who apparently was immediately behind that voter but outside the village hall doors, also stated in response to the Facebook post that he’d been denied the opportunity to vote.
A total of 10,585 people cast early ballots at the Brookfield polling location during the two-week period between Oct. 19 and Nov. 2. That far outdistanced the record early voting turnout of about 6,600 in 2018 and the 5,930 early ballots cast for the 2016 presidential election.
Congress Park polls open late on Election Day
One other local polling place snafu came Nov. 3 at Congress Park School, where voters from Lyons Township Precincts 2, 4 and 6 in Brookfield report on Election Day.
The polling place, which was supposed to open at 6 a.m., opened about 25 minutes late due to reported problems with some of the electronic voting machines.
While those wrinkles were mostly ironed out, a Congress Park election judge said one of the touchscreen machines was not working properly until about 2 p.m.
Traffic, however, has been brisk at Congress Park, according to election judge Laura Bala.
“Turnout has been nonstop all day,” she told the Landmark at about 1 p.m. on Election Day. “I was shockingly surprised [and] we’ve had quite a few first-time voters, too.”
Bob Skolnik contributed to this report.