When people think about voting in Chicago, they think corruption. Even the local newspaper’s voting column is called “Early and Often,” referencing the infamous vote early and often statement.
What they don’t know is that voting in Chicago is hardcore. Ballots are a foot-long and double sided; there were two this year, e.g. four pages of voting. It starts easy enough, governor, senator, but then it just becomes a muddle. Who did you want for state treasurer? What about county treasurer? (and that doesn’t even touch city treasurer; city elections are in January). How about water reclamation board? (which is a city position) Vote for no more than three choices out of nine for a six year term and a quick google won’t tell you anything about this year’s candidates. This year’s – you vote for water reclamation board every year.
After this warm up, you get the judge page. For some reason, we get to vote on judges, which is cool but also ends up just being overwhelming. An entire foot of “should we retain this judge? What about this one.” Yes/Si vs No/No for a page at least 30 choices.
I don’t have a good understanding of exactly how the judge voting works and I have a friend whose aunt is a judge.
Then there are polling places. There is a polling place in the school across the street from my house, but it’s not my polling place. Mine is, in fact, in a nursing home on the other side of the school. They send a ton of mail telling you where to vote but it’s still confusing enough that the Democratic party put signs up on everyone’s door letting them know where to vote this year.
I passed by an apartment building between the school and the nursing home; their sign said they vote at a church three blocks away. The polling place thing, although confusing as all get out, is one of the most awesome factors about Chicago voting. Most places I’ve been, voting happens in a school gymnasium or maybe a public library. Chicago? Not so much
While the locations in my neighborhood are fairly prosaic – as I said my location is a nursing home – some people in Chicago get to vote in bars, bowling alleys, funeral homes, beauty salons, and auto dealerships.
I love voting in Chicago. It feels like a real accomplishment to vote. Even though the judge voting is overwhelming and nigh impossible to keep track of, I have gotten to vote “no” on a few really corrupt people, which always feels good.
I also love that every effort is made to make sure that people can vote. You never have to show a photo ID and a utility bill (or voter card) can be used for proof of residency if you’re not on the rolls. This year we got to vote on amending the constitution to make voter ID rules illegal. While it’s a little political-machine, it’s great that the Democrats put up signs giving voting information. I love that so many people are willing to work a 14-hour shift for $75 so that we can all vote.
So while I appreciate the fun of talking about Chicago voting as all corruption, there is so much more going on that is bizarre and awesome and is so much more Chicago-y.
I don’t need to tell you to vote, right?