By Charlie Melton
Indian Creek Township is composed of good, moral, loving citizens. Well, mostly. A few need a good spanking, but mostly people are pretty good. I’m here to testify they deserve better.
I’ve been running all around the internet virtual highways and byways screaming, “The sky is falling.” You might say I’ve been crying “wolf”. Unlike the fable about the geezer who cried wolf, there is really danger here. We have to eradicate the danger and prevent it from coming back. To put it another way, and in keeping with the wolf theme, our virtual house is made of straw, and we need to upgrade to brick.
My most recent fight against windmills was in the last primary election. My ballot was kicked out. As I was in our polling place, probably gabbing with someone or another, I noticed that every other ballot was kicked out. Being curious, I called my good friend that knows about such things and she had no clue why. I even called our County Clerk, who told me I should have asked for another ballot. That was news to me. I kept snooping around and eventually found the unofficial election results, which I didn’t understand. It showed a huge percentage of “over votes”, which make that vote, in that race, void. When researching other counties in Illinois, we had the highest percentage by far. Our over votes exceeded even the Cook County precincts I found on line. That is a bad thing.
Through reading and bothering a lot of people I learned that if the ballot is kicked out, and you press the appropriate button, the ballot will not count in a particular race, even though the ballot is accepted by the machine. Let me explain that better. If the machine rejects for “over vote” it thinks you have picked more than one candidate in a particular race, like senator. If you accept the ballot as is, your senatorial vote is not counted. The only way to correct an over vote is to get a new ballot, as long as the machine is working properly.
The same process is for “under vote”. Under vote means you didn’t vote for anyone in a race, so obviously it would not be counted. In that case, you can take your ballot and fix it, or not. The big deal is that every vote should count, because it should. If your vote doesn’t count, it makes you “marginalized”, which means you didn’t get the say you should have. Many intelligent people right here said, “It didn’t make any difference. Those are the people I referred to earlier that need a spanking. Just off of the top of my head, I seem to recall that, in Norris City not very long ago, the measure to allow alcohol sales in town passed by only a vote or two. Every vote matters. I want mine to matter too.
So after much thought and effort I decided to take the opportunity to be a “poll watcher”. Poll watcher is an unpaid position that is just what the name says. You watch the polls. You have a checklist, a copy of the statutes, and lots of good will. As a poll watcher you are always welcome. Just kidding. You are not usually welcome, but it needs to be done because things happen, even if the things are accidental.
My maiden voyage as a poll watcher was in a nursing home. Everything was on the up and up, probably because the election judges were good moral and intelligent people. It went good, at least in my assigned nursing home. Some of the others had problems, but that is out of my lane.
The Indian Creek polling was a different story. I identified what I and the law thought were a few problems, which happens. Most of the judges tolerated me and seemed to believe me. One did not.
This judge, intent on doing it how it’s always been done, was not amused. I won’t go into details, because the problems I documented are out of my hands and in the hands of smarter legal people. Just suffice to say that there were inconsistencies that keeps me from saying, or believing, that it was a fair and impartial election in Indian Creek.
Whether the failure to follow the law is willful, or just because they don’t know, is something I can’t be sure of. I’m not a mind reader and can only report on what I see. If my eyesight is faulty, shame on me. I truly don’t think it is.
So what do I want out of this? I want my vote, for every measure and every candidate, to count. I want to trust my friends, family, and neighbors with that vote. How can that happen? Poll watchers is part of the way. Whatever the maximum number of poll watchers is, that is the number that needs to be in every polling place, every time.
We also need to educate ourselves. We need to ask lots of questions. Remember that the only stupid question is the one that you don’t ask. Demand our officials answer those questions to our satisfaction.
Lastly, hold our officials accountable. If they resist, replace them.
You deserve the best. You haven’t been getting the best.