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"Malicious" robocalls leave Chicago short of election judges

CHICAGO - City election officials had to send out scores of standby election judges on Tuesday, after a shortage of workers at polling places throughout Chicago.

Chicago Board of Election Commissioners Chairman Langdon Neal told CBS Chicago at least one precinct in all 50 wards had a problem with election judges not showing up, and the city had to enlist the help of 250 standby judges.

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People line up to cast their ballot at the Highwood Recreation Center November 2, 2010 in Highwood, Illinois. Frank Polich/Getty

Neal said the problem should not affect elections. City election officials were contacting voters they believe were not able to cast ballots Tuesday morning due to polling places opening late, and asking if they could come back to cast a ballot later Tuesday.

CBS Chicago reports Neal blamed the shortage of election judges on "malicious" robocalls made to election judges over the weekend, falsely informing them they had to report for training, or they would not be able to serve on Election Day.

In other cases, dozens of judges reported receiving calls demanding they vote a certain way in order to serve as election judge.

"If someone's gonna go to all this trouble for us, what are they gonna do if they just call average voters? They're not gonna be as inclined, they're not gonna know who to call if they're getting misinformation," said Danny Bravman, an election judge who said he received multiple calls.

Neal said the messages were completely false, and he believes it was a plan to disrupt the election, and perhaps keep down vote totals in Chicago.

"We feel that there was malicious intent, and so we've contacted our judges to make sure that that process goes smoothly," he said.

Election officials said some judges quit after receiving the misinformation.

A handful of other problems were reported at polling places in the Chicago area on Tuesday.

A polling place in the South Loop opened on time, but sources said voting was delayed at least an hour due to equipment issues, and a shortage of poll workers.

At another polling place in Lakeview, poll workers told voters who showed up at 6 a.m. that some of the voting machines weren't working, and voters should come back in an hour.