This is my first election as a political official; every election prior to this has been as a more casual voter. While I’m no naif, I confess to being surprised by some of the shenanigans going on throughout my township (I’m the chair of the Naperville Democrats, we are a town of about 60,000 voters) today.
Just a few stories:
- At one polling place, an election judge was promoting Christian Bookstores, who are apparently giving voters 20% off today if they wear their “I voted today” sticker.
- At another, the Republican election judge was requiring all non-white voters to present identification prior to receiving a ballot; white voters were given a ballot without any need for ID.
- A black woman who was a pollwatcher for us was verbally accosted by the Republican election judge: “You must be here because you don’t have a job.” (For the record: she took the day off to do her civic duty. Whatever.)
- Yet another polling place, a Republican election judge was wearing his GOP pin on his shirt collar. (Any form of electioneering, including the wearing of partisan buttons, is strictly forbidden by law.) When he refused the pollwatcher’s polite request to remove it, the election judge called the pollwatcher an asshole. After repeating the request (backed up by a suggestion that he could be arrested), the judge relented. His daughter (with her own button on her collar) then started greeting voters at the door, another violation of the law.
These are the more egregious examples; there are countless more trivial issues that have cropped up today. We’re not even a battleground state; I can only imagine what Ohio, Florida and other states are like. Some context: DuPage County is considered one of the most Republican counties in the state, and the level of Democratic organization is unprecedented — consequently, at least some of the above is due not to malfeasance, but surprise on the part of election officials who’ve not dealt with an organized party in the past. Coupled with a relatively light amount of training that these individuals receive, and I think you can chalk most (not all, but most) of the stories to a simple lack of understanding. Still…
The good news? Not a single person I’ve spoken with today is in the least bit discouraged about voting. If anything, their resolve has stiffened, convinced more than ever that change is a-comin’.
Polls in Illinois close in just 150 minutes. Then the drinking starts.