Union County woman reports voter intimidation call

Friday, October 26, 2012

JONESBORO, Ill. -- Residents of Union County, Ill., are being reminded to report incidents of voter intimidation in the wake of a telephone call that a county voter said pressured her to cast an absentee ballot.

Union County Clerk Bobby Toler Jr. said Thursday that the call is being investigated and had been brought to his attention by a woman who had formerly served as a county election judge.

According to Toler, the woman -- whom he declined to identify -- notified him Monday that she had recently received an out-of-area phone call from a person who strongly urged her to cast an absentee ballot in the November elections.

"It was a live call," Toler said. "It wasn't a robocall or some other kind of recorded political message."

Robocall is a term for a phone call that uses a computerized auto-dialer to deliver a prerecorded message, as if from a robot.

Toler said that even though the woman had been patient and informed the caller that she planned to vote in person, the caller became more belligerent and insisted she vote absentee.

"It probably stepped over into harassment at that point," Toler said. "The caller even began talking loudly over the woman, saying things like, 'You must vote absentee!' over and over."

Toler said that while live telephone surveys, phone-banking and get-out-the-vote efforts are a normal, if somewhat unpopular, part of elections, coercive calls and undo pressure are not.

"Any call you get that tells you how to vote or forces a decision from you one way or the other could be a criminal violation," he said.

So far, there is no new information on where the call could have come from, but Toler believes the woman who received the call did the right thing in reporting the incident and that it was, so far, the only one of its kind during the current election cycle.

"Now that the public is aware of it, hopefully we'll receive some information about the call," he said.

Similar incidents or any other evidence of voter fraud or intimidation should be referred to the Union County Clerk's office or sheriff's department.

Calls to the county sheriff, state's attorney and Republican and Democratic party leaders in Union County were not returned Thursday.

klewis@semissourian.com

388-3635

Pertinent address:

309 W. Market St., Jonesboro, Ill.

Map of pertinent addresses

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