The Political Process is Hard Work

Yesterday, as usual, I worked at a polling place in the special election in the Illinois 5th Congressional District to fill the seat in Congress formerly held by Rahm Emanuel, who’s taken the job of President Barack Obama’s chief-of-staff.

Today, as usual, I’m nearly in a state of collapse after working a 16 hour day, most of it on my feet. The political process is hard work, somebody’s got to do it, and if I didn’t do it, it wouldn’t be done as well in my precinct as I make sure it’s done. Besides, I get to meet and learn something about my neighbors this way.

To practically nobody’s surprise Mike Quigley, the Democratic candidate, (pictured at right) won. However, the turnout was ridiculously, absurdly low. Low enough that, if the Republican Party had cared enough, I believe the Republican candidate could have won. The difference between winning and losing in my precinct was just a matter of 20 votes and I know for a fact that there were 20 more Republicans, Democrats, or independents who would have voted Republican than did vote. I’ve got a few more reflections on the election here.

Most of those who took the trouble of voting were policemen, firemen, or other city or county employees. Quite a number of the cops complained loudly about their pensions, lack of a contract (they’ve been working without a contract for two years), and the various corruption scandals here in Chicago, Cook County, and Illinois.

I’ve put some additional observations relating to this in another post, The Coming Pension Meltdown.

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Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.

Comments

  1. Triumph says:

    The political process is hard work, somebody’s got to do it, and if I didn’t do it, it wouldn’t be done as well in my precinct as I make sure it’s done.

    Actually, we don’t really need poll workers like yourself. Oregon has voting by mail and the scheme not only reduces costs, but it also increases turnout.

    Low enough that, if the Republican Party had cared enough, I believe the Republican candidate could have won. The difference between winning and losing in my precinct was just a matter of 20 votes and I know for a fact that there were 20 more Republicans, Democrats, or independents who would have voted Republican than did vote.

    This is crazy. Rosanna Pulido had no chance in hell at winning the seat. Her views are waay out of the mainstream in the US–let alone a liberal district like IL-5. Her main claim to fame, for crissakes, is that she started an anti-immigration group. That aint going to fly in a district that was 25% Hispanic in the 2000 census.

    Pulido is a nutcase with no record of accomplishing much of anything. Quigley has been a sane voice as a County Commissioner and his main issues are reform and environmentalism–which fit in with the political dispositions of the district.

    Sorry, but 20 votes from your precinct wouldn’t have done much damage to Quigley’s 70% lead.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    Triumph, I voted for Quigley and I thought that Pulido was a lousy candidate. I generally agree with your assessments of both Quigley and Pulido. That doesn’t defeat my point it supports it: Republicans weren’t interested in the race.

    I guess I didn’t make my other point clearly enough. In a Congressional district with a half million people when the turnout is low enough anything can happen. 20 votes per precinct in the couple of hundred precincts involved isn’t a huge hurdle. It just takes a couple of hardcore Republican, some independents, or disaffected Democrats.

    As to how voting could or could not be done, I have no opinion. Today, this minute, election workers are an absolute necessity: they’re required by Illinois law. Without amending the law the choice isn’t between workers and no workers but between relatively good ones and relatively poor ones.

    I can, however, tell you that large scale vote fraud is a commonplace in Chicago and I doubt that online voting would solve that problem. I have had Chicago police officers, stationed in polling places on election day, tell me that the number of voters recorded in their polling places outnumbered the number of people who came to the polling place 2 to 1. Perhaps the conditions in Oregon are different than they are here.

  3. markm says:

    I can, however, tell you that large scale vote fraud is a commonplace in Chicago

    …getoutahere…in Chicago?? 🙂

  4. Triumph says:

    Let me ask you this Shue–Sure, the Republican national party wasn’t interested in the 5th district race, but that is precisely because Paulido is about the best candidate they could find. Is there a legitimate electable Republican from the 5th district? The only way they could win there would be if you had a Bloomberg-type of run where a liberal Democrat uses the Republican line on the ballot to avoid an expensive Dem primary race. There are simply no Republicans in the 5th who could win. Pulido was their A+ candidate, but she earned an F in the general.

  5. Dave Schuler says:

    Triumph, I’m not a Republican and I don’t know every Republican in the district. My take is that Republicans had written the district off–reasonable enough given that it’s 90% or more Democratic. What I’ve gotten from Republicans who are at least somewhat knowledgeable in the workings of local politics is that Pulido got virtually no support from the party for her run. I spoke with several Republicans yesterday who are completely fed up with state Republican Party.

    And I’ve heard similar things about Quigley from people knowledgeable about Democratic insider politics. My understanding is that Mayor Daley is not supportive of Quigley. He wanted O’Connor. Precinct captains in the district (at least some of them) got no directions at all on the election. I know of at least three Democratic precinct captains in our ward who didn’t even know there was an election yesterday until mid-morning.

  6. triumph says:

    Shue, I agree with your assessment (esp. with regard to the Daley/Quig relationship). I think one of the reasons you have such a phlegmatic Republican Party in IL is simply because the state is overwhelmingly Democrat. Paulilo is actually a pretty mainstream Republican–but she could never win in a multi-cultural, liberal district like IL-5. Thus, the Repubs didn’t waste resources. You see this trend nationally–during the past 15 years the Republicans have alienated secular rationalists, foreign policy realists, fiscal conservatives, and quality of life environmentalists. THAT was the IL Republican party of Chuck Percy, Jim Thompson, etc… All of those folks have left–either to the Dems (who have basically reclaimed the right-center) or they stay home. Basically what I am saying is that no “real” Republican could win in the IL-5 because the anti-immigrant, fiscal irresponsibility, xenophobic, religious-nut arguments that are the hallmarks of the Bush-legacy party have extremely little appeal there.