Barack Obama hasn’t called me since 2004, when he was running in the Senate primary, and still needed publicity from the Chicago Reader. So it was a delight to hear him on my voice mail Monday, even though this time it was a pre-recorded call.
I’m pretty sure it was Obama. It sounded like Obama. He was so excited to speak to me he began talking before I got the receiver to my ear, so this is what I heard:
“…my friend Alexi in a close race, early voting is crucial. Early voting is already underway, and I strongly urge you to go vote today. Also, for the first time ever, you can vote by mail. To learn how you can avoid lines and bad weather by voting early, visit alexiforillinois.com, or call 312-269-7900. Thank you. (woman’s voice) Paid for by Alexi for Illinois.”
I called the number. It was the Chicago Board of Elections, which told me this call is only going out to 773 and 312 numbers. I was transferred to the Absentee Voting department, and asked how I could vote early.
“Do you have access to the Internet?” the clerk asked.
Madam, I am a blogger.
“Go to www.chicagoelections.com. Go to ‘For Voters,’ and it’ll give you a whole lot of information on where you can early vote.”
“What about voting by mail?” I asked. “They said you can do that for the first time this year.”
“That’s absentee voting,” she said. “That’s been going on forever. This time, you don’t have to have a reason. That must be what’s different. You used to have to be sick at the hospital or in Tennessee. And if you decide to vote by mail, download your application and get it in the mail as soon as possible.”
According to the website, “Under a new law, voters in Illinois no longer need a reason or excuse to vote absentee.” It also gave me the address of the park fieldhouse where I can early vote. I've absentee voted before, but I've never early voted. If my president strongly urges me to go vote today, I’ll do it. I’ll tell you about the early voting experience tomorrow.