The election bill has two related, disturbing pieces.
The first allows a county political party to appoint 10 roving observers, who may go into any precinct in the county. Before, a party could appoint up to two observers for each precinct, but they had to stay in that precinct.
The second piece allows a challenge to a voter to be filed in a precinct on Election Day by any voter in the county. Before, the law allowed Election-Day challenges, but they could be filed only by another voter in that precinct.
Together, these provisions will allow a white Republican observer from say, Country Club Hills, to be sent to a heavily black polling place, say Chavis Heights, and challenge any black voter – or voters – he chooses.
Why think this new power might be abused? Because one right-wing group has already demonstrated it can and will target unfavorable voters for mass challenges with the flimsiest evidence. After investigation, few of their allegations have stuck. But their challenges had to be filed before Election Day, giving time for investigation.
Now, if the Republicans appoint such people as observers, they will be able to create chaos on Election Day.