My Brush With Blago

Governor Blagojevich

Looking at my flickr stats for this week, I noticed that my photo of Governor Blagojevich is leading the hit parade. This was taken at Wrigley Field on my birthday back in 2005. We had seats better than the Gov’s, right behind home plate. He was glad-handing folks as they walked up the aisle after the game and when I walked by, he shook my hand and wished me a happy birthday. (My friend Anne tipped him off.)

Back then, the Feds were two years into their investigation on Blago. It would only take another three years and some awesome wire-tapped phone conversations (you can’t make up dialog that good) before he’d be reigned in while trying to sell our Senate seat to the highest bidder. Most people I know had one thought on Tuesday–finally!

Yeah, it’s a proud day for Illinois. Somehow we’ve managed to elect two corrupt governors in a row. I’d say the Obama honeymoon glow has definitely dimmed on the Land of Lincoln.

I was glad when the Presidential election finally ended and with it the two-plus years of constant campaign news. Now it seems that will be replaced by the long, protracted fall-out and eventual legal action against Blagojevich.


Election Judge Round Up

NaBloPoMo, Day 6

Overall, things were pretty calm and collected at the polling place where I served as an equipment manager election judge. No long lines, no broken-down machines, no fist fights. At most, we had maybe five people in line at any one time, waiting for one of only two touchscreen machines to become available.

Highlights of the day:

  • Most of the voters in my precinct were senior citizens. One gentleman who came in with his wife was born in 1918–the year WWI began! About an hour later, a gentleman who’d recently celebrated his 100th birthday (and didn’t look a day over 80) hustled in to vote using the touchscreen. He was one of the more with-it people I saw all day.
  • One older woman who I remembered from the primary election decided to use the touchscreen to vote, griping all the way. She was convinced the machine had been rigged, insisting that the check-marked selections appearing on each page weren’t entered by her. She took by far the longest to cast her ballot of anyone that day. Every few minutes she’d call me over with a loud “MISS!”, glare at me and register her distrust with this system, again. I offered many times to give her the chance to start over fresh or use the paper system, but she pooh-pooh’d my suggestions and kept on going. After at least twenty minutes of scrutinizing and pushing away at the screen, she finally cast her ballot and turned to me with a glint in her eye to declare that using the touchscreen was “really great.”
  • Early in the day, a youngish voter encountered a problem when she was asked to sign her application for ballot form. (In Illinois, your signature serves as your proof of ID.) When the election judge handed her a black pen to sign the form, she asked for a blue one instead and when she was told we only had black pens, she said, “Oh no, I only sign in blue ink.” The judges told her again that black was the only ink to be had and she declined to sign. She walked over to another precinct’s table to ask for a blue pen and found only black ink there as well. She was last seen walking away from the building and never came back. Apparently ink color was more important to her than anything on the ballot. One of my fellow judges, who’s been working the polls for over ten years, proclaimed, “Well, now I’ve seen everything.”

Heated Political Debate

Yesterday I crossed paths with three ten-year-old boys briskly walking down the street, engaged in a rousing political discussion. As they passed by, I heard one boy enthusiastically say, “McCain would be better at war, but Obama would be better at home.” That about sums it up.

Loooong Day

10 p.m. I’m home and absolutely beat. It’s been a long day that started out crazy and ended even crazier. I’ll blog about it later. Or perhaps, I’ll just finish off this bottle of wine and try to forget it.

(Update: See, I’m just saying…ridiculous stuff happens and while my day was challenging, it never came to blows.)

Super Tuesday!


Well, I’ve made all my preparations. Packed my backpack with my election manual, the big binder with all my notes and check lists, magazines and books, snacks and water. I’ve ground the coffee so I won’t wake the house in the early a.m. and the big thermos is standing by. I’ve mapped out the location where I have to turn everything in at the end of the night and I’ve set my cell phone alarm to wake me at 3:00, 3:01 and 3:02 a.m. (The thing I’m most nervous about, above all else, is oversleeping.)

I’m sipping on a big mug of chai tea with hot milk, a sure sleep aid and I’m about to pack it in, giving me a good seven hours of sleep.

About an hour ago, I spoke with an election judge from one of the other two precincts that will be sharing our polling place. Apparently her equipment manager is MIA and they told her to have me help set them up tomorrow, so it looks like I’m covering two stations. Wish me luck.

Like many, I’m excited about tomorrow, a tad bit apprehensive (though not as bad as four years ago!) and more than ready for all this election hype and hoo-haw to be over. At least for a little while.

Happy voting!

Checking the Big Blue Box


I went over to my polling place today to check that all the equipment, supplies and envelopes (oh so many big envelopes) were in the big blue metal box that contains everything we’ll need on election day. Check. Check. Double check.

A Nineteen Hour Day


I learned yesterday that the polling place where I’m serving as an Equipment Manager Election Judge will not allow us in the night before to set up our station. (Argh! Curses!) Setting up the polling booths, the optical scanner, the touchscreen machines, and ensuring that all machines are in working order takes about an hour, assuming all goes smoothly. In the best possible world, this prep is done the day before. There’s enough to worry about on election day.

Polls open at 6 a.m. and election judges are required to be on site at 5 a.m. The building manager for my precinct has graciously (ha!) agreed to open the building early, which means I need to be there at 4:30 in the morning. Working backwards, that means I’ll have to wake up at 3 a.m. and if I want to get a good eight hours sleep, I’ll have to go to bed at 7 Monday evening!

All in all, once polls close, votes have been transmitted, I’ve made my drop-off at the receiving station, and gotten some dinner, I’ll have put in nearly a twenty hour day!

I’m beginning to wonder if it’s worth the money. I know that once I’m in the midst of the process on Tuesday, it will be interesting and a tad bit exciting and that’s part of the reason I’m participating as an election judge. I keep reminding myself that the money I earn will go toward purchasing a big comfy chair for the library I’m setting up in the spare room at home. If I think of it that way, and not in terms of an hourly rate, it helps to make it all tolerable.

I suspect it won’t make it any easier to get up at 3 a.m. on Tuesday morning.

Democracy: Priceless

Hours of training to be an election equipment manager judge: 12

Hours of set-up and break-down before and after the polling: 5

Hours the poll was open: 13

Number of voters casting their ballot in my precinct: 9



That’s not even one per hour people!

But it was fun and interesting and I’ll do it again come next February when the presidential primary election is held. I suspect turnout then will be a tad bit better.

Working the Vote

In a minute here, I’ll be on my way to the polling place where I’ve been assigned as equipment manager to set things up for tomorrow’s election. Setting up the touchscreen machines etc. will make tomorrow’s scant hour before the polls open (at 6 a.m!!) a tad less hectic.

The goal is to be in bed by nine tonight, four hours before my regular bedtime. (I don’t think I’ve been to bed by nine since I was ten.) I have to be at the polling place by five a.m. and absolutely must give myself enough time beforehand to fire up a pot of coffee. Tomorrow calls for the big thermos!

So, Tuesday I’ll be away from the internet and knee-deep in democracy. I’m packing  a lot of reading material.

Vote Schmote

On this election day, things are quite grim in the land of Lincoln. The Illinois governor’s race is a discouraging choice between business as usual and the same old same old. Gotta get out and exercise your right to vote, but it’s hard to get enthusiastic about it with the choices we’re given.

It was fun to use an electronic voting machine for the first time. A quick and easy process and the machine had a paper print-out that I double-checked as the final step in the voting process, so in theory there’s a backup. He-he-he.

If you’ve still yet to vote and want another considered opinion, perhaps you’d care to consult The Beachwood Election Guide to Throwing the Bums Out and Smashing the Machine.