Early 2020 election voting can be a struggle if you moved
Loop North News

The Home Front

(Above) Trixie Friganza (second from left) and fellow women’s suffrage advocates circa 100 years ago. Image provided by Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library.

19-Oct-20 – Voting in the 2020 presidential election celebrates the 100th year anniversary of the passage of the landmark voting rights amendment in 1920 that gave women the right to vote.

More Americans likely will vote in the 2020 election than have voted in decades but exercising your right under the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution sometimes can be serious work, especially if you recently moved or changed your name.

For example, this writer moved from the 39th Ward to the 2nd Ward but didn’t vote in the 2019 primary election in the 39th Ward because he was out of the state of Illinois on vacation.

The following spring he did not receive a 2020 verification of registration – a voter’s card – issued by the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. This act of voter laziness put me in election limbo this autumn. I tried to register to vote by mail but was rejected.

As an alternative, I opted for online voter registration because of the need to register and vote before leaving for the Great Smoky Mountains.

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The online process involved typing in my new address, zip code, phone number, email address, and the last four digits of my Social Security number, listing my former address, and swearing that I am telling the truth.

Because of COVID-19 worries, the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners is urging voters to vote by mail or vote early before election day, November 3, and adhere to the following rules:

• Every voter should wear a facemask that covers the mouth and nose, whether visiting to use in-person Early Voting or to use a Secured Drop Box.

• Voters in line also must practice social distancing with six feet of space between them.

As a veteran newsman who believes the motto, “If your mother tells you she loves you, check it out,” I called the Board of Election Commissioners, explained my problem, and asked a few questions...

Q. How can a 2nd Ward voter register and simultaneously obtain a ballot to vote between now and Election Day?

A. If you live in the 2nd Ward, go to Ogden Elementary School, 24 West Walton Street, Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., or on Saturday or Sunday between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

In the 42nd Ward, the Early Voting site is at Maggie Daley Park, 337 East Randolph Street, with the same hours.

(Right) An election judge helps a voter insert a completed ballot into a ballot scanner.

Photo by Steven Dahlman

Q. What documentation should a voter bring to register to vote?

A. At least two forms of ID are required at each Early Voting site. An Illinois driver’s license with photo is a good choice, even if it bears your old address. The second – such as a utility bill, current apartment lease, or credit card – should show the voter’s current address.

Because I’m recovering from knee replacement surgery and still limping, I asked my son, Erik, for a 2:00 p.m. ride to my Early Voting location at Ogden Elementary School.

“You’ll be in there for an hour,” he said.

I was greeted by a smiling woman who pointed to two lines – one for voters submitting their Ballot Return Envelopes at a Secured Drop Box, and another line for others who planned to vote early or simultaneously register and vote early. The drop box line moved swiftly. The other line inched along with 20-25 voters spread six feet apart.

Photo by Steven Dahlman

Noticing my limp, the woman guided me up to the door and beckoned to an election judge, who sympathetically listened to my sob story.

(Left) Electronic polling equipment.

“I’m sorry about your knee surgery, but you’ll have to wait in line,” said the friendly, but business-like female election judge. This writer wondered: “Why didn’t I bring my cane?” I then showed her the scar on my knee.

Just then, a kind, middle-aged gentleman who was next in line said: “You can go ahead of me.”

Once inside the Early Voting location, action was swift. Another Early Voting application was filled out because the online application couldn’t be found. The necessary documents for registration were produced, studied, and approved.

Once certified and registered to vote, I was handed an electronic voting chip that looked like a credit card. A young woman guided me to a freshly sanitized computerized voting machine.

After the chip was inserted into the touch-screen voting machine, I made my selections for president, senator, and other representatives, offices, dozens of judges, and the issue of changing Illinois tax law.

I printed my finished ballot, put it into a privacy sleeve, and handed it to another polite election judge, who inserted the ballot into a scanner to be counted. The efficient registration and voting process took 20 minutes.

Then, I was handed a card that said: “Thank you for voting.” For those who wish to boast, the card has a peel-off sticker that says: “I VOTED!”

This year, the sticker is a keeper.

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By Don DeBat | Loop North News | debatnet@aol.com

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