I early voted Tuesday, and I have to say, it was the most fun I’ve ever had inside a voting booth. It was more fun that my first time, which was only a school bond issue, and even more fun than my first presidential election, in which I was forced to choose between George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis.
It was so much fun because the Chicago Board of Elections now uses touch-screen machines, which make voting feel like going through the wedding registry at Target, or betting on a horse at Arlington Park. It did take awhile to figure out, though, which is another reason to do this early -- confused voters may cause long lines on Election Day.
At the check-in table, the election judge handed me a plastic card, and told me to shove it into a slot in the machine. I did. Nothing happened.
“Push it in harder,” the judge said, peering into my cubicle for the first of many times. “You have to push it in until it clicks.”
I pushed it in until it clicked. But then, when I tapped the screen, to vote for a candidate, nothing happened.
“Maybe you should use the stylus,” the judge said, reaching for a plastic pencil-shaped object.
The stylus worked. Then I got to a race between two candidates I didn’t like.
“How do I do a write in?” I asked. “This stylus doesn’t write.”
“Tap the button that says write-in,” the judge said.
I did. A screen with a keyboard appeared. Very cool. I typed out a few letters, but couldn’t think of anyone better than the candidates on the ballot, so I skipped the race. It was a little off-putting having the judge poking his head in so often, because I’d voted for a few candidates I’m embarrassed to support. That’s happening to a lot of Illinoisans this year.
After I’d been through all the elections, and voted to retain all the judges, I got to review my choices on a paper receipt that appeared behind a window on the machine. I didn’t get to take it home, but there is a paper trail.
The best thing about early voting: it made Illinois’s endless election season two weeks shorter. Now, I no longer have to pay attention to campaign ads. The worst thing about early voting: I may want to change my mind if I hear some last-minute dirt on one of my candidates. What if I hear that a Senate candidate lied about his military record, or flew to Miami to lend money to a pimp?
Yeah. Just go get this nasty election over with. You have until the 28th to early vote.
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