The Illinois Primary, by Rich Paschall
The weather was a bit cold and the skies were partly cloudy when I went to vote in our primary. Our political future is mostly cloudy with a 98 per cent probability of discontent. I guess that is nothing new for a primary, but in the current political climate, I was hoping for a better atmosphere.
The voter turnout was astonishingly low despite the massive amount of money spent on television ads and the large quantity of social media madness. A friend of mine who always votes immediately took to Facebook to tell all the non-voters to just “stfu.” If you don’t know what that means, you can consult your urban dictionary. We are trying to keep a “G” rating here.
“I am surprised,” said Cook County Clerk David Orr of the low turnout. The county estimate late in the voting day was 23 percent. Cook County contains Chicago and suburbs so the one county of 102 counties can pretty much determine the outcome of statewide races. Imagine if we had double the turnout and they all voted for someone other than the eventual winner. All races would have a different candidate and the voter turnout would still be less than half.
The county clerk thinks that all of the negative advertising has a negative effect on voters. If you think all candidates are bad, why vote? The days of voting for the “lesser of two evils” seems to be gone. If voters don’t like the choices, they stay home.
If you think Millennials are going to bail us out in the future, you might wish to think again. Their voter turnout was pegged at about 3 per cent. THREE per cent! You might get them to register to vote at voting drives on college campuses and some local hot spots, but getting them to actually vote seems to be another matter.
Voters between 54 and 74 helped to bring up the percentage. The turnout in this age group was 42 per cent. OK, we care about the outcome and we want to get rid of as many bad politician as possible. Our numbers, however, are dwindling and so is our influence. When we are gone, who will be voting? Will ten percent of the population decide for everyone? We know extremists with a rabid fan base will get voters out, how about the sane ones?
When I arrived at the polling place in the local grade school near the house, I noted that you had to go up stairs to get in and then down stairs to the polling area. It is not what you would call handicapped accessible. I know there is a handicapped entrance as it is a public school, but I believe it is on a different side of the large building. This has been my polling place for almost 40 years. Now the stairs bother me and friends say I should report this to the Board of Election Commissioners. That would be the democrats who help decide where all these polling places are put. They must have heard the complaint by now.
We have paper ballots where you fill in the arrow for the candidate you want with a fine tipped black marker. I took the large sheet of paper for the Democratic primary to the voting booth where I could sit rather than stand. There was no one else there, so why not? I carefully considered the list of billionaires and multi-millionaires running for governor. The favorite was J. B. Pritzker, billionaire businessman and venture capitalist. He hopes to unseat billionaire Governor Bruce Rauner, businessman and venture capitalist, in the fall.
The Pritzker family is well-known for philanthropy. I know this by the amount of things that have their name on it in Chicago.
Despite the 70 million dollars in ads bought by Pritzker with his own money, I decided to vote for Chris Kennedy, son of the late Senator Robert Kennedy. No one here considers him a carpetbagger, by the way. He met his wife at Boston College and after graduation in 1986, he married her and moved to Decatur, Illinois. Decatur!
For years he ran the Merchandise Mart properties. The Merchandise Mart in Chicago is the largest commercial building in the world. He has been involved in various local and civic causes. He was not liked by the establishment and did not have the kind of money Pritzker had for ads. He lost.
After I turned in my ballot and headed out of the polling place, there were a couple more voters there, but I did not get a good look. From a distance they looked like Boris and Natasha, but I did not think those two lived in my precinct. Anyway, the turnout was sparse.
Outside there were political operatives handing out polling cards or “palm cards” to voters. These are cards you can take into the polling place so you can vote for the candidates endorsed by the Democratic Party. This is a long and time-honored tradition here. It probably has less influence than in the Mayor Daley era.
Two of the street operatives looked amazingly like moose and squirrel, but I could not tell for sure as they hid behind a tree when the Boris and Natasha looking characters came out. I was going down the street in the other direction so who can say who these characters actually were.
In fine Chicago tradition the County Clerk received complaints of fighting at a polling place. It seems some political operatives got into a fight with other operatives over the placement of campaign posters. Yep, your signs might be too close to someone else’s signs so maybe he should punch you. That’s what we call here “the fight for democracy.”
Sources: “Illinois Primary 2018: Large majority of voters stay home on Election Day,” abc7chicago.com
“Illinois Primary Voter Turnout,” chicago.cbslocal.com
“Christopher G. Kennedy,” en.wikipedia.org
“Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner to Face Democrat J.B. Pritzker in General Election,” http://www.wsj.com