April 17, 2007

Democracy in action

I was drafted into being a "polling place administrator" for the municipal elections today, which basically meant I floated around three polling sites (covering seven precincts) and stood ready to resolve any technical problems that might arise with the equipment. Which, happily, didn't happen.

But it did give me a chance to meet a lot of people and see how things were run at various sites. If they don't keep around this position, I definitely plan to sign up as an election judge (as I've been meaning to do for ages now)óbecause I'd be good at it and there aren't nearly enough new people doing it. (Nearly every judge I met had been an election judge for at least a few years, many of them for decades.)

Also interesting was the attitudes of the various election judges, for good or for bad. Like the judge who started doing some of the closing-down stuff early, because "nobody's going to show up in the next ten minutes". (Someone did!) Or the judge that thought there should be some simple test that everyone should have to pass before being allowed to vote, to keep out the "retards". (Yikes.) Or the judge that thought there was way too much fuss about all this privacy stuff, because they weren't really interested in peeking at your vote. In a more positive direction, one judge found it very important to rearrange the handicapped voting booth so that it would actually fit a wheelchair behind it and be accessible, and so that nobody could walk behind it and see what they were doing. Or the many that went very carefully over what the voter needed to do to successfully vote their ballot. Some of them didn't always see the point of all the specific proceduresóand would therefore be inclined to cut some cornersóbut not one of them would have let anyone's vote go uncounted.

As the day wrapped up, I headed over to City Hall, at first to see if there was anything else I was needed for. When there wasn't, I thought I'd hang around a couple minutes anyway, just to get the results. Four of the seven wards had an aldermanic election this cycle, and all four were contested. It was a rout. The people of this city are seriously displeased. (This may partially be fallout from the Super Walmart snub, along with various other "we're ignoring our constituents" snubs the council as a whole has made.) In three of the wards, a challenger beat an incumbent by a factor of two or more. (In two of those wards, this was even in the face of having a second challenger taking a significant number of votes!) In the fourth, the incumbent won by a margin of just nine votes. The turnout was also reflective of this: those four wards had a total of 2,349 votes cast, to just 668 votes (for various school board seats) in the other wards.

So, just another exciting election day in Galesburg!

"If we elect a bum worse than the one we threw out, we can vote for someone else four years later. Democracy's not that complicated. If we don't start behaving like we live in one, we'll have no one to blame but ourselves for the consequences." --Ben Joravsky

Posted by blahedo at 8:26pm on 17 Apr 2007
Ooh, and I forgot the most interesting thing about the electoral rout: a few years back, one guy ousted an alderman, the ousted one moved to a different ward and ran in the next cycle, and then they were both on the council. (That must have been awkward.) Both of them were just ousted (one by a sixty-point margin).

This stuff is so fascinating.

Posted by blahedo at 9:34pm on 17 Apr 2007
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