The Chicago elections website was non-functioning most of the day today, adding to the confusion among voters who didn't realize their polling sites had changed.
The Chicago Board of Elections website, which voters could use to check where to vote, went down early Tuesday morning. It was functioning by about 4:00 this afternoon.
By 2:24 p.m., the Board of Elections had documented 864 cases of Chicago voters showing up at the wrong polling place. About 20 percent of city voters were sent to new polling sites this year due to redistricting.
And when voters and elections officials tried to find the correct locations, the Chicago elections website was not there to help.
"We are investigating the possibility that our website problems this morning were caused by a malicious attack," said Langdon Neal, spokesman for the Chicago board of elections. "We were overwhelmed by hits, and we know that a significant portion of them did not come from individual voters asking to find their polling place."
He said many of the requests appeared to be coming from computer servers.
"We can tell by the way the requests are coming in and the volume," said James Allen, spokesman for board of elections. "It's behaving like a computer program and not like people with legitimate questions."
Neal described the morning voter turnout as "massive" but suggested that could be due to a recent trend of most Chicago residents voting early in the day.
"It's difficult to say at mid-day what this means," he said. "But we still expect a 75 percent turnout by the end of the day."
Allen said the city had redirected its servers to the state elections website -- State of Illinois website -- and was working to "beef up" the firewall protections. The state website also experienced periodic responsiveness issues based on searches at the Tribune Tuesday morning.
City residents were also told they could find their polling places by texting their name and address to the Board of Elections at (312) 361-8846, but that was down as well. Voters were also asked to call (312) 269-7900 or go to the state elections Website to find their polling place.
Allen said there has been some precinct confusion among voters, which he said is typical after redistricting, but no major problems.
"There are instances of people going to the wrong polling places, as we expected," he said. "This is always the way it is after redistricting."
Heather Boggs, 35, for example, went to the wrong site after consulting an outdated voter registration card. Election judges at two sites sent her to two more incorrect places.
After being turned away at the third site, she said she was giving up.
"I am pretty frustrated. I don't think I'm going to vote," said Boggs, who said she had to get home to her children. "I am pretty disappointed. The people didn't know what they were doing."
Marisol Cruz was turned away from a voting site on North Sawyer Avenue in Logan Square and was told that she had a new voting site north of there. When she got to the second site, Coonley Elementary school, she was told she was in the wrong ward.
"Someone has to fix this," Cruz said. "I'm not running around anymore."
The list of registered voters was missing in the 23rd precinct, causing problems among voters there. Election judge Peggy Studiger was frustrated as she handed out dozens of provisional ballots at Beulah Shoesmith Elementary School on the city’s South Side. Her supply was running low and the line was out of the door.
"We've had more provisional ballots than ever before, said Studiger. "We've got people who have been voting here for 20 years and they're mad."