Today was my first experience with “early” voting – I have always voted in person on Election Day. Those who have been here way too long may remember that into 2012, the city of Chicago threw my vote away (probably). Having registered at the DMV with “motor voter”, the DMV had my correct address – however the Chicago Board of elections omitted the apartment number and the fine Postal Service automatically returned any mail that was missing the apartment number. Curiously, I did get the mail telling me that my mailing address was invalid. The result was I had to vote on a provisional ballot, after I called Springfield to raise holy hell with the state board of elections. But given that Chicago and the demeanor of the voting precinct staff, I’m confident it went straight to the dumpster, probably replaced by some ballot from a dead person.
So if you have not have the experience, here’s what it was like today. I could have requested an absentee ballot, they also have a provision for for voting from your car if you have trouble walking (which would have been a good choice for me). My research paid off – I arrived at 12:45 PM – after the lunch rush but before the afternoon rush. There were only about five people in front of me in line. At 1 PM, the line was back to 20 people.
As I discovered this morning, this library is actually closed for renovation for the next year. They are spending $8 million in bond money to add 2000 ft.² and a snack bar. The voting occurred in the lobby, such as it is.
Because this is countywide and not precinct based, I was pointed to a man with a laptop sitting at a table – he asked for my name; I gave him my name and my address, then he asked me for my address. Since the federal judge decided the state cannot ask for ID, that was it. We were on the honor system. He printed off a small label about 2 x 3″ that had my name and address, and he asked me to check to make sure that really was me. After I agreed, the label was attached to the ballot card, which most importantly said which version of the ballot I should get.
Once that was completed, they pointed me towards the voting machine area. Since there are probably 150 different versions of the ballot depending on the judges, House District, etc. they had to punch in my special ballot version number so that I would be given the correct choices. As I pressed each button, a printer which I could see showed my selection. After going through all of the pages and verifying my choices, I pressed “make it so!” And the printer spewed out barcodes, the 2016 equivalent of 80 column Hollerith punchcards with hanging chads. Did the barcode match what I actually chose? No idea. I guess I just have to trust something. So in theory they could run the paper tape through and recount the votes.