Regardless of how you vote today — hopefully for the Park Referendum — thank you for voting and may your voting experience be trouble free. Should you run into any difficulty, patience and perseverance seemed to have worked well for an early and an absentee voter with whom I recently spoke. The early voter, who was using a touch screen voting machine, reported initially receiving the incorrect ballot. The absentee voter also reported receiving the incorrect ballot. In both case, based upon each voter’s account, perseverance and patience seems to have paid off since both voters reported the issues were satisfactory resolved.
Before going to the polls today – they open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. – there are a number of things we all should know. According to yesterdays press release from Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office, Illinois voters have a number of basic rights when voting. Attorney General Madigan lists them as (1) the right to vote if we are in line when the polls close at 7 p.m. or at any other time between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Election Day (10 ILCS 5/17-1), (2) the right to receive a replacement ballot, if we make a mistake or “spoil” a paper ballot and we have not cast the ballot (10 ILCS 5/17-11), (3) the right to request assistance from anyone other than our employer, an agent of our employer, or an officer or agent of our union if we cannot read, have trouble understanding English, or are disabled (10 ILCS 5/17-14), (4) the right to take unpaid time from work to vote, but no more than two successive hours, as long as we have applied with our employer before Election Day (10 ILCS 5/17-15), and (5) the right to be free from electioneering within 100 feet of the polling place (10 ILCS 5/17-29).
Those rights place some responsibilities upon us, as well, according to William Kresse, Associate Professor at Saint Xavier University and Director of its Center for the Study of Fraud and Corruption, who describes some of them in his article on the website ChicagoNow. In it he explains we do not have the right “within polling places or within 100 feet of polling places (1) to wear an item (shirts, buttons, hats, pins, etc.) with a candidate name on it, or (2) to use a camera within a polling place (the exception being “properly credentialed media”). As he explains outside your polling station you should find at least one blue cone and that from within the polling place out to that cone is the election free zone in which there may be no electioneering.
To help protect our voting rights a number of different government commissions and offices will be monitoring the election: The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, The Cook County State’s Attorney Office, The Illinois Attorney General Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Should you witness or experience any irregularities you should initially speak with the Judges of Elections at your polling place. If you are unable to resolve the issue you should contact one of the monitoring commissions and/or offices: Chicago Board of Elections Commissioners’ “Election Central” @ 312-269-7870, The Cook County State’s Attorney Office @ 312-603-7960, The Illinois Attorney General Office at 866-536-3496, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office @ 312-469-6157.
May our election be fair and free. Thank you for voting.