Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=103731
Story Retrieval Date: 6/19/2013 8:53:44 AM CST
A tour of city and suburban polling places, from country clubs to trailer parks, showed excitement and a few glitches, but no major problems Tuesday.
7:44 a.m. - Orland Park-Riviera Country Club 8801 W. 143rd Street. Only about half the voting booths lining one wall of the linen-draped hall are in use, although election judges report 76 voters have already cast ballots in what they say is normal turnout. Two women outside the club’s banquet hall pass out election fliers for a judge.
“I was surprised that there were no lines in there today,” Kathy Lettier says.
8:20 a.m.- Robbins-Bremen Youth Services 13800 S. Trumbull – Politics trumps family sometimes.
Quincie McCain-Gosl is outside the polling place wearing an Obama hat.
“Even though I am a relative of John McCain . . . I am still voting for Obama,” McCain-Gosl says.
She produces a picture of herself and Joe McCain, John’s brother, taken at a family reunion in Greenwood, Miss., this summer. McCain-Gosl says she is a descendant of slaves who worked on the 4,000-acre plantation owned by McCain’s ancestors. Joe McCain spoke at a church during that reunion and acknowledged the familial ties that bind his family and McCain-Gosl’s family, she says. John McCain’s failure to do the same diminishes him in her eyes, McCain-Gosl says.
McCain-Gosl says her great-grandparents were sharecroppers on the plantation and eventually were able to buy their own parcel of land. Putting aside her family connections, she says this election is a uniquely historic one.
“Because it’s the first African-American presidential candidate and the first female vice presidential candidate.”
9:14 a.m.-Beverly-Beverly Woods Restaurant – 11532 S. Western Ave.- A man wearing a fedora and smoking cigar stands outside of the entry way handing out sample Democratic ballots to voters as they enter. He says hello to the local real estate agent’s daughter, noting that she has an Obama sign on her front lawn.
“For people in Chicago politics is just a way of life,” he says.
Inside there’s a pot of coffee and a generally empty polling place. Election judges say 234 people combined have voted in the two precincts that vote here.
9:49 a.m.-Merrionette Park-Oak Lane Mobile Home Park – 11750 S. Homan - Washers and driers line one wall, voting machines stand in a row along the other in this cramped polling place serving mostly the senior citizens who populate the mobile home park.
The machine that activates cards for the electronic voting booth has stopped working after earlier success.
There are more than enough booths for casting paper ballot to accommodate the three seniors currently voting. A total of 78 have cast ballots so far, a higher turnout than usual says a judge.
Phyllis Manzella says the close proximity of the polling place to her home makes the Election Day outing easier.
10 a.m. – Cook County clerk -- Trevor Layton, a spokesman for the Cook County clerk, says that voting equipment has held up amidst high turnout.
“There have been no more problems than usual . . . it looks like things are pretty normal as far as equipment goes,” Layton says.
Layton says an Evanston precinct had 150 people in line when polls opened at 6 a. m. The first voter claimed his territory at 4:30 a.m., Layton says.
“It sounds like things are living up to our own expectations,” Layton says.
10:32 a.m. – Blue Island- Village Hall – 2434 Vermont St. – Elizabeth Cruz, 20, is voting in her first election.
“It is important because we are voting for a new president,” Cruz says.
She says she had no problems using the electronic voting machines, and everything appears to be running smoothly in the room behind the village council chambers. The election judges, all new to this precinct, say they have seen 66 voters so far.
2:30 p.m. – 610 S. Michigan Ave. - Throngs of people sporting their Obama best line up across the street in preparations for the night’s rally in Grant Park. Vendors are selling buttons, hats and t-shirts bearing the Democratic nominee’s likeness all around this high-rise polling place.
Foreign press film outside, as inside confusion about provisional ballots occurs.
“I wasn’t in the book so I had to use a provisional ballot, but the line was so long that they let us use the paper ones,” says Elizabeth Baker.
Provvidenza Catalan, 18, a first-time voter, is excited about casting her first ballot.
“It was good. It’s a very powerful feeling. Before all you could do was complain, now I can actually do something,” Catalan says.
Like Baker, she experienced provisional ballot problems. Catalan is a Columbia College student and thought she could vote at this polling place, although she is registered elsewhere in Cook County. Despite this, she was allowed to vote with a paper ballot, instead of a provisional one.
“They let the provisional voters vote with the paper ballots,” Catalan says.
An official at the Chicago Board of Elections said that this procedure violates election rules.
“That was not right, that was incorrect,’ the election official says.