Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Get off your lazy duffs to make sure you’re registered to vote come Feb. 24

It’s my oft-stated belief that people who don’t bother to show up to vote come Election Day lose their right to complain about the ineptitude of their government officials.

Particularly since recent changes in electoral procedure now allow people to vote in advance of Election Day. You don’t necessarily have to wait in line for hours at a time on the big day in order to cast your ballot.

WHICH IS WHY I’m particularly worked up about Tuesday – which is the final day for people to make sure they’re registered to vote IF they want to be eligible to cast ballots in the mayoral election.

If you wait a couple of weeks, you could still be eligible to vote in the April 7 run-off elections that may well be necessary (the most recent poll I saw indicated no one is likely to win outright a month from now, and it will be Mayor Rahm Emanuel being challenged by Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia in a run-off).

But not being registered properly to vote will ensure that you would be committing a criminal offense if you were to try to cast a ballot come Feb. 24.

That would be truly a sad situation if it were to come about next month.

MY OWN BIAS is that I always want as many people as possible to turn out to cast ballots – and not just because I do think it is a civic obligation to take a few minutes to use one of those touch-screens that now serve as voting booths to express your opinion of who should serve in government.

Both as mayor, the clerk and treasurer positions, and who gets to represent your ward in the City Council.

I know there are some wards where the incumbent is unopposed, which gives people no choice for who will be their alderman. But there are others where there are ample choices.

Those residents ought to look at this as an opportunity to express themselves – to speak out in a way to make their pleasure (or displeasure) about City Hall known.

NOT BEING ABLE to do so because you were too lazy to even bother to register to vote is more of a negative statement about yourself rather than a wisecrack about the quality of government and its public officials.

Although I wonder how this upcoming municipal election cycle will turn out.

Because while I believe there are people who are appalled and disgusted by the current administration (particularly that of Emanuel) and who are screaming at the top of their voices to be heard, I also wonder if the apathy factor is going to cause many more people to care less.

Even if they are registered, they may not vote. And if they’re not registered, then activity on Feb. 24 (with a possible April 7 follow-up) is a moot point.

THERE ALSO WILL be conflicting perceptions because of the fact that so much of metro Chicago is suburban – about two-thirds, to be exact. In those communities, the municipal elections don’t come until April 7.

Within Cook County, only suburban Dolton and Morton Grove have any offices up for stake next month. Everybody else will wait until April to decide who should be the leaders of their local governments.

And if past elections are any example, few suburban people will bother to turn out. City elections are different in that politically-aware people take them more seriously than the state or federal elections. Some of the same city residents who couldn’t be bothered to vote for governor last year will think mayor means more.

But how many of last year’s lazy people will care less this year? And how many of them will scream the loudest come early May when the new local officials are sworn in for the next four years of service?


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