Voting Not Going So Well In Illinois. Maybe This Was A Bad Idea?
Over the weekend, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced that all bars and restaurants in the state would have to close for the next two weeks, in order to keep the spread of coronavirus to a minimum. While this does seem like a good and safe (and, unfortunately, necessary) idea, it would be a better idea if there was a way to do that without completely screwing servers, bartenders and small business owners. A whole lot of people are really, really scared right now about how they're going to be able to pay rent and buy food, particularly since server tips often do not count as "insured" wages when it comes to unemployment benefits.
But although Pritzker was more than happy to close all bars and restaurants, he somehow did not see fit to postpone the Illinois primary and in-person voting like Ohio did, even though the Chicago Board of Elections asked him to do so weeks ago. And it sure does not seem as though that was a particularly great idea, because it's been kind of a shit show.
Via NBC 5:
Chicago Board of Elections spokesman Jim Allen said the call was made to Springfield within hours of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifying the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic.
"This was a snowball we could all see coming down the hill," Allen said.
But Pritzker's office is claiming that never happened and also that he does not have the authority to postpone elections.
"Elections are the cornerstone of our democracy and we could not risk confusion and disenfranchisement in the courts. No one is saying this is a perfect solution. We have no perfect solutions at the moment. We only have least bad solutions," his office said in a statement.
Pritzker said the administration offered resources to help with the shortage in judges, but said "the board wouldn't reduce red tape."
"So instead of accepting help or offering any solutions of their own, the Chicago Board of Elections decided to wait until Election Day to get on a call with press and make politically charged accusations," the statement read.
Pritzker also stated, in a briefing on Monday, that continuing the primary is "the right thing to do."
"We have to have our elections continue, in my opinion. This is the right thing to do," Pritzker said at his daily coronavirus briefing Monday. "Our democracy needs to go on, we need to elect leaders. If we canceled these elections, you know, when would you have an election, would be a question I might ask. But the most important thing is that we're taking every precaution."
So far, there are reports of several people going to their polling places to find they've shut down.
My polling place at 6650 W Belden cancelled (not delayed), unannounced and unauthorized. Even Board of Elections wa… https://t.co/Lyo8xkDZ8P— Jeff Nz (@Jeff Nz)1584453760.0
How’s your Election Day going? #COVID19 #BarringtonIL @GovPritzker @cookcountyclerk https://t.co/UX4uo0pJe9— Brian Prigge (@Brian Prigge)1584447629.0
Election judges all over failed to show up, and the Chicago Board of Elections was still, as of last night, begging healthy people to get sworn in last minute and fill in.
Capable and healthy voters are welcome and encouraged to offer to ask to be sworn in to help in any precinct that i… https://t.co/Zkddwyo1HO— ChicagoElection (@ChicagoElection)1584414043.0
There were polling places that didn't get their voting machines and other necessary items delivered on time.
This polling place is still waiting for its election gear. It opened at five this morning, but so far they don’t ha… https://t.co/Q1UyV2wCMe— CharlieWojciechowski (@CharlieWojciechowski)1584462715.0
Another voter says: The busiest polling places in Worth Township are turning away voters because they are not pre… https://t.co/85suBhm9Q5— Mary Ann Ahern (@Mary Ann Ahern)1584451674.0
Election Day so far: 5/8 election staff are elderly, we were provided with no cleaning supplies, we are missing an… https://t.co/x58v0P4SN2— rebecca (@rebecca)1584441187.0
Not directly related to this, but to add to the general shitshow air of things, a CBS news station interrupted "The Price Is Right" on Monday to "accidentally" announce that Joe Biden had won the Illinois primary, with 100% of precincts reporting, a day ahead of schedule. Amazing!
WCIA 3 has since explained it was just practicing with test numbers and somehow the rehearsal made it on air, which it was not supposed to do.
Now, I was already questioning the wisdom of having an election in Chicago on St. Patrick's Day, because I thought that could potentially result in a whole lot of drunk people doing joke votes for Seymour Butts or Tulsi Gabbard. But having it in the middle of a pandemic is clearly an even worse idea. Why do things a stupid way when you could do them a not stupid way? Why even bother with in-person voting when we could just send out ballots to all registered voters and let them drop them in the damn mail? Other states do it!
Voting is great. I want people to vote. I am also not keen on this primary being dragged out forever. Who is? But no one should have to risk their health or the health of others in order to vote. Immunocompromised people should not be disenfranchised. Older people should not be disenfranchised.
We should all be mad on behalf of every person who had to make this choice today.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse