This morning we ran some errands, went back to the house to retrieve my forgotten ID, and then we went to the village hall to vote.
When we got there, we were waved over to a small table and given early-voting applications to fill in and sign – fortunately, I had thought to retrieve my actual voter’s registration card, which had stuff on it we needed, like our precinct number. Otherwise, they would have looked it up. We were advised about the constitutional convention kerfuffle, and were given a sheet explaining what the ballot initiative was, how by law it’s on the ballot every 20 years, and how an election judge didn’t like the wording and thought it was unnecessarily opaque. So it has the old explanation, and the new one. The official voters’ guides were already printed when this was decided by the judge, so that’s the reason for the paper and the verbal explanation.
On to a small room off the main lobby, where 4 or 5 electronic voting machines were in use. We showed picture ID (required for early voting) and given reusable voter info cards – I turned it over and saw that it had a chip on the other side. It probably contained our township/village/precinct information so that we’d be shown the right legislative, Congressional, and other candidates on screen. As soon as one machine opened up, the village hall guy in charge of the early voting showed us how to insert the card, told us how to get through the screens, and we were handed a little pink sheet warning us not to take the voter card out of the machine until the message “Thank you for voting, your vote has been cast electronically” or words to that effect. Then the card would auto-eject.
David started voting, and I waited a minute or two longer until a machine near the door was available. I got to sit down, at least, it was set up for a disabled person who couldn’t stand for long periods.
All went well. The tedious thing about voting in Illinois is that there are all these judge retention choices to make, and honestly as long as you have an Irish or Polish surname OR middle name, you’re in like Flynn. Which has led to all kinds of abuse in the past, so now there are helpful websites like this one: www.VoteForJudges.com, where you can look up and print out judge evaluations that have been gathered by a number of different bar associations. The evaluations are listed in grid form, with names running down the left margin and the abbreviated bar associations running across the top.
The associations rate judges in various ways – Well Qualified, Qualified, Not Qualified, Retain, No Retain, etc… they all have different ways of doing it, but you get the hang of it pretty quickly. The first batch of judges go on for about 7 or 8 screens… and they’re usually running unopposed. The only way to vote against one of these judges is to leave a blank. On the electronic machine I used, a big green check mark would come up if I touched the checkbox. Corrections could be done by touching the same box again. Anyway, I’d printed up and marked my evaluation form at home, which ran to 9 closely spaced, gridded pages. It was annoying how the judges weren’t in alphabetical order on the screen, though, the way they were on the printed guide. So I went through screens and checked, checked, checked next to judges’ names, and occasionally I verified that I didn’t want to check their name… one female judge was rated qualified by only 30% of the total number of associations.
I mostly went by the women’s bar associations of various kinds, reasoning that they’d probably have some values in common with me.
The second batch of judges were rated differently – the question was a straight up “Retain? Yes or No.” I had those ratings too, and that’s where it really slowed down, because the names weren’t alphabetical and I kept having to flip back and forth between the last 3 pages of my judges guide.
I totally had to guess on the water reclamation district race… bad voter! But I reasoned that one of the three Green party people should have a shot, and the other two names were Democrats with Hispanic names. That outta make things interesting at meetings.
I have to say, early on it was a thrill, because I got to vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden in the Presidential race at last. At last! Great God almighty… well, two more weeks until we know for sure. But I decided it would probably be inappropriate to burst into tears, song, or both, so I sucked it up and kept on voting. I was happy to vote for Sen. Durbin, who’s kind of been on fire the last two years what with suddenly being one of the highest ranking majority members and being able to get a lot more bills through committee and passed than ever before. And I voted for Bean, who’s done all right and also benefited by becoming a majority-party U.S. Representative in her second term.
There was definitely electricity in the air, though, and we overheard the village hall guy say that on Friday and Saturday, the first days of early voting, there was a wait of 35 minutes, with people out the door waiting to vote. Earlier today, I was reading about how Utah’s doing early voting, and today was the last day to register. So in Salt Lake, they had so many people show up that they set up a drive-thru outdoors, with extra staff deputized to hand applications to drivers, who filled them out in their cars (or on their motorcycles) and handed them back. A number of people then were able to vote early. A TON of people have been registered in Utah; many of them are Republicans who never bothered voting for the last decade because in Utah it was either a waste of time (Clinton) or safely in the bag (Bush).
But there are a lot of Democrats in Salt Lake, and Salt Lake County. Also not a few in the Park City area; I think that’s Summit County. They might be electing a few down-ticket candidates, else why would Hillary Clinton bother to show up for a couple of fundraisers in that reddest of red states?
I can has iPhone?