Column 10-7-16

Several weeks ago, I wrote about the dangers of voter fraud and how many instances go unreported or underreported. And with a porous amount of checks and balances in place, many people are led to believe that fraud is virtually nonexistent. In fact, I remember seeing at least one column pooh-poohing the notion that it even existed. Well, there’s an interesting story that I feel compelled to share with all of you.

 

The Chicago Sun Times headline reads “Vote Fraud, Intimidation Allegations Hurled About In Kankakee Co.” To summarize the article, the Kankakee County State’s Attorney said that “Individuals from Chicago” offered gifts in exchange for votes. Who exactly was involved is unclear at this point, but we are led to believe that this is an example of machine politics at its finest. The Madigan-led Illinois Democratic Party fired back saying that it was in fact the Kankakee County State’s Attorney who was in the wrong because the county had asked to see some form of identification from those who were voting early. With the accusations now flying in all directions, someone needed to head to Kankakee County to get to the bottom of all of this. Who was that person you ask? Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

 

Friends, we live in interesting times. By the way, if you’re hoping to receive a gift in exchange for your vote, I’m sorry to inform you that I will not be offering such a service. While I can’t offer you any gifts, I can offer you some words as to why your vote is important.

 

I read an opinion piece in the Freeport paper about the lack of political signs – and perhaps overall enthusiasm – this election cycle. That may very well be true. A Public Policy Polling (PPP) poll taken over the summer found that a full 13% of the American people prefer a giant meteor hitting the earth over the prospect of Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump taking the Oval Office. It should come as no surprise that several other polls have shown that the two candidates vying for the Presidency this year have some of the lowest approval ratings of non-incumbents in history.

 

My fear is that this lack of enthusiasm for the top of the ballot will have a deleterious effect on the bottom of the ballot. What I mean to say is: because of how negative the race for President has become, many people will not vote for their local races. That would be nothing short of a shame. In the same breath, I also fear that those who are extremely motivated by the top of the ticket will not vote for the entirety of their ballot. Local races need to be seen for exactly what they are – extremely important!

 

My plea to you is simple: please vote! Just because you’re unhappy with your choices for President doesn’t mean that you should throw away your chance to vote for all the other important races. In fact, did you know that the Illinois U.S. Senate race could determine which party controls the senate? Your vote absolutely matters in that race, in the Illinois Comptroller’s race, and in your local races. It doesn’t take a mathematician to tell you that the further down the ballot you go, the more your vote matters. Because there are fewer people voting in your County Board district or in your State Representative district, your vote naturally carries more weight.

 

The importance of voting has always been something I’ve stressed as being of the utmost importance. As citizens within a democracy, it is the single most impactful mark we can make. For 730 days over the course of two years, policy makers choose how they will impact us. But for one day out of those 730, we have a chance to impact them. So why wouldn’t we?

So now I have a request for each and every one of you. Before you vote, do your research. Most county clerks have a form sample ballot on their website. You can see which candidates are running for each office. You can also find out how to vote early and where your polling place is. Lastly, if you plan to vote on Election Day you should plan how to get to your polling place. Maybe you know a friend or neighbor who may need a ride, or maybe you need a ride yourself. Plan ahead, and plan accordingly!

 

I am not going to tell you how to vote. And if I did try to tell you how to vote, I would hope that it wouldn’t influence you. However, I do hope I can help convince you to vote. I trust that you will make the best choice for you and your family, but please at least make a choice!

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f you can take the time to talk about politics on Facebook, then surely you can take the time to pull a ballot this November. In fact, you can do one better – you can vote early and vote often. Ok, the voting often part was just a bit of humor, but you should definitely consider early voting.

 

I never thought I would quote Louis L’Amour in my column, but this week I find myself ending with this, “To make democracy work, we cannot be only observers. He who does not vote has no right to complain.”

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