Tuesday, October 28, 2014

10, 9, 8, 7 …

We have one week go to before Election Day, and yes, I do feel like I’m sitting in a seat atop a rocket of old, with the countdown going into the final seconds before blastoff that will signal the beginning of a new era of government.

So to speak!

THESE FINAL SEVEN days will literally be a countdown for many of us who would like to see this election cycle with all its inherent nonsense come to an end.

But I’m wondering if we’re really going to see a sudden end to the silliness come Nov. 4. We’ve been hearing the reports of tales of voting machines that somehow are malfunctioning in ways that turn all ballots cast into votes for Democratic Party candidates.

There also have been reports of how Republican operatives and their attorneys already are preparing for the areas where they suspect there might be grounds for legal challenges – so they can swoop in first thing Nov. 5 to file lawsuits challenging the elections results.

Are we going to get an Illinois encore to the electoral nonsense of the 2000 campaign cycle?

NONE OF US will ever forget how we didn’t learn until early December that George W. Bush had managed to hold on to an electoral college lead in Florida that gave him a presidential victory – even though it was undisputable that a majority of voters nationwide wanted Al Gore to be president.

It wouldn’t be exactly the same in Illinois since we pick governors and other statewide office holders by popular vote. But based on the temperament he has displayed thus far, I would fully expect Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner to be the kind of guy who would refuse to concede no matter what the facts are.

And to challenge in court to the bitter end, no matter what the public sentiment will be.

Now I’m not claiming Democratic government officials aren’t capable of the same thing. Let’s note that Gov. Pat Quinn himself in 2010 went out of his way to declare victory in both the primary and general elections – so as to create the early impression that he was the winner and that any late-night changes were some sort of plot to deprive him of office.

BUT IT’S SOMETHING about the tone with which Rauner used to constantly tell Quinn face-to-face during debates that he was going to lose. I believe Rauner will find it beyond belief that someone willing to spend so many millions of his own money could possibly come in second place on Election Day.

I couldn’t help but notice the Illinois Republican Party statement issued Monday concerning problems with absentee ballots cast in Rock Island County.

“The Illinois GOP will continue to monitor this process to ensure full transparency and fairness in absentee voting,” said party Chairman Tim Schneider “We remain deeply concerned by reports of early voting machines calibrated in a way that switches people’s votes from Republican to Democrat – similar to reports out of Cook County just last week.”

Already trying to plant thoughts in our heads that somehow, the election tallies we’ll learn a week from Tuesday are not to be believed.

ALTHOUGH I WONDER if part of the motivation is the fact that the Cook County clerk’s office said Monday that nearly 50,000 people had used early voting centers last week to cast ballots.

At that rate, suburban Cook County will far exceed the 83,871 votes cast at early voting centers in the 2010 general election cycle – the one where suburban Cook and Chicago proper put together so many votes for Quinn that he beat Republican challenger (and rural Illinois preference) William Brady.

And yes, two of the top five early voting centers in terms of the number of ballots cast (in Orland Park and in Matteson) are likely to produce overwhelming majorities of votes for Democratic candidates.

That may well explain why it took Rauner until Monday afternoon before he made his first south suburban campaign appearance – at the Metra commuter train station in Flossmoor.

HE NEEDS TO spend his time building up large vote margins in other parts of Illinois so he can be close enough that a post-Election Day legal operation could be enough to put him over the top; if need be.

While Quinn engages in e-mail binges – such as his Monday message letting us know we need to be on “the right side of history” when it comes to support for a minimum-wage increase.

So that the governor would have such a large voter margin that a lawsuit challenging election results would be seen as an act of desperation.

And the rest of us can parachute down from atop that electoral rocket and return peacefully to our usual routines.


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