Friday, November 6, 2015

EXTRA: Were we Ill. from lack of Election Day in 2015 like Ind. had?

We'll have to wait 'til March to vote
Personally, Election Day came Tuesday and kept me sort of busy because of my duties for a Northwest Indiana newspaper – I got to write about the return for another term of Gary, Ind.’s Ivy League educated mayor and the political comeback of the daughter of that city’s long-time mayor, Richard Hatcher.

Yet I do wonder how many people didn’t miss it in the least that we in Illinois didn’t have anybody to cast ballots for come Tuesday.

FOR THIS WAS a year in which our municipal elections got crammed into a short period – February (for those who needed to have something resembling a primary) and April (for the final vote).

Those of us in municipalities that had local officials up for grabs (not just in Chicago) picked our people back in April – with most of the newly elected (or returned to office) officials being sworn in some time about May 1.

Election Day? That’s long over, if we even bothered to pay attention at all!

I seem to recall voter turnout stunk back in April – even for the Rahm Emanuel/Jesus Garcia political brawl that was supposed to be a revolutionary overthrow of a tyrant but instead merely turned into an ego-boosting rout for Mayor Rahm.

SO IT WAS with that knowledge in mind that I read Cook County Clerk David Orr’s statement on Friday that emphasized how much cheaper things were without the clerk having to deal with municipal elections on Tuesday.

Some $4 million per year for the nine municipal election cycles that have come up ever since the current electoral system was devised in 1997.

Personally, I wonder if isolating those municipal elections so much makes it harder to draw public attention to them. Then again, doing it the old-fashioned way as they did in Indiana didn’t boost attention.

Lake County, Ind., officials estimate about 15 percent voter turnout, and I saw some precincts in Gary where the total number of voters could be counted on one individual’s fingers and toes!

FOR THOSE OF us in Illinois, our next chance to vote will be March 15 – a primary for the Legislature seats, along with the Senate, members of Congress. And, oh yeah, for president.

He won't be around in '16
Although I suspect the Illinois story is going to be how our voter turnout will stink compared to the last two presidential election cycles. We won’t have our “favorite son” candidate on the ballot – and there’s a good chance the total of mediocrities and nobodies seeking the presidential nominations in both major parties will not be able to inspire anyone to vote.

That likely will be the same come May in Indiana. Once again, our states will be united in something!

Even if it’s nothing but a collective apathy.


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