Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Election Night could turn out to be an electoral educational experience

I’ll be the first to admit I pay far too much attention to the details by which we elect people to political office. But it still always manages to shock me a bit the degree to which the voters don’t truly comprehend the way our system works.
Signs like these will be in abundance on Tuesday

It takes the off-beat Election Nights in order to get people to see all the ways in which things can go haywire. And then, their usual reaction is to complain about how someone must be behaving corruptly.

IT CAN’T JUST be the complications of counting up all the ballots that the electorate manages to cast – as though they think we’re entitled to have an accurate computation of the ballots within minutes of the polls closing! Anything else must be the result of someone ‘cooking’ the books – most likely to benefit the corrupt ‘Machine’ candidates.

Even though the days of the old “Machine politics” in Chicago really is dead and buried. If things really were that rigidly controlled by the establishment, there’s no way we’d have 14 candidates running for mayor on Tuesday, and the potential for chaos that we could see.

What’s at stake is the fact that we have so many candidates and the likelihood that no one is going to take an overwhelming count of the vote in their favor.

Which means this is an election that will be so close, we’re likely to see absentee ballots – those people who fill out their form at home and send them in through the U.S. Postal Service to the Board of Elections – come into play.

ELECTIONS BOARD OFFICIALS admit some 63,000 such ballots have been requested, with only 26,000 of them having been sent back in by Monday.

That makes for some 37,000 people contemplating filing their ballot by mail, but literally waiting until the absolute last minute before submitting it. Which according to the law, is Tuesday. The ballots have to be put in the mail box in time so they can get a Tuesday, Feb. 26 post mark. Which means they won’t even be received by city officials until week’s end.

Or, if you’re in a particularly sarcastic mode of thought, some time next month – if the Postal Service lives up to its usual standards of pokey delivery time.
A touch of privacy, while ensuring poll watchers can see no illicit activity
Meaning it would be downright irresponsible for anybody to think that the election tallies available to be counted Tuesday night will be the final outcome. There’s bound to be a cluster of candidates crammed at the top of the vote tallies so as to make it unrealistic to say just who the Top Two vote getters will be.

YOU ALSO JUST know that whoever finishes third or fourth is bound to clutch to the belief that all the mail-in ballots will contain enough voter support to push them over the top and into the run-off election to be held April 2.

It’s going to be oh, so strange for those people who tune into a 9 p.m. television newscast Tuesday expecting to learn who won – only to be told it might be too close to call.

They won’t want to understand, because they’ve become too used to expecting Election Night results by then – with candidates making victory or concession speeches during the 9 p.m. hour, and thinking of anyone who refuses to make such a statement by then as being some sort of sore loser who just can’t face reality.

When the reality really is this can be a complex process to ensure that all votes are properly counted. It will take time. That could be the lesson of Election 2019 – just as Election 2000 was the one that made many of us realize just how easily it was for a ballot to be tampered with to the point of being uncountable.

REMEMBER ALL THE talk of “hanging chads?” And how repulsed the "W." Bush people were that they couldn't immediately celebrate their political victory -- trying concoct scenarios in which none-other-than Bill Daley himself was trying to stead a "win" away from them?

I still do, and must admit that what through me for a loop was that many people weren’t more fully aware of this. Just as I’m sure now many really expect all the hundreds of thousands of voters who cast ballots Tuesday can all be fully accounted for within an hour or two.
Just an example of the off-beat locations pressed into polling place duty
There is, however, one plus. If it really takes a couple of weeks before we can be sure exactly who won Tuesday and by how much, it’s going to mean that the run-off election is coming to come up on us right away.

There just won’t be that much time left for the two mayoral finalists to campaign against each other. As far as I’m concerned, that makes for few political cheap-shots and rhetorical attacks against each other – good riddance!


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