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Democrats’ voter hotline heats up with complaints, concerns, questions

Voters cast their votes at a polling place on election day February 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. File Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Chicago voters are being sold a lot of nonsense by candidates for mayor who promise everything except higher taxes, writes Phil Kadner. | File Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

A Democratic Party of Illinois voter protection hotline has already received more than 700 calls — including someone alerting staff to a robocall that claimed Election Day had been moved.

The party last month announced the effort aimed at getting wind of irregularities or attempts to suppress the vote.

Democrats on Friday said the hotline has already intervened in “dozens” of voting issues, while also providing general election information to voters. A majority of the calls are about how to vote by mail or general election questions, but staffers are also dealing with election issues, including intervening at a Will County early voting location “plagued by long wait times,” which was turning voters away.

In another instance, a local election authority advised voters that a driver’s license was required to vote, even though it is not. Staffers also worked to help DuPage County election officials to ensure that ballots for disabled voters were made available at an early vote location. The hotline is available at 833-VOTER18 in English and Spanish.

The hotline was created in part in response to other states’ laws that have either mandated identification at the polls or curtailed early voting, Christian Mitchell, a Democratic state representative from Chicago and executive director of the state party, said last month in announcing the hotline.

State Rep. Christian Mitchell. File Photo. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

State Rep. Christian Mitchell. File Photo. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Mitchell pointed to changes to the Voting Rights Act, as well as policies in Georgia that have closed polling places in largely black areas and a flyer from a Kendall County clerk that claimed that a photo ID was needed to vote as acts of intentional or unintentional voter suppression.

Meanwhile, as of Friday, the Illinois State Board of Elections had already received 291,528 mail ballots. And more than 697,000 had already voted early. Including grace period registration — which extended the deadline to register to vote, the state has received 1,001,627 ballots so far.

In Cook County, 54,297 mail ballots had been received, and 153,680 had voted early. In Chicago, as of Wednesday, the city had already surpassed the 2014 early voting total, and the vote by mail applications had already surpassed an all-time record from 1944.

Illinois voters are casting their ballots for high-profile races including the gubernatorial contest, as well as several contested congressional races.