All posts by christengall2016

Christians join Women’s March in Washington

By Christen Gall

WASHINGTON, D.C.  — Her protest started with a plane ticket.

Verity Ramirez, a 26-year-old medical resident at Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine, is a Christian who attended the Women’s March on Washington last month. She came to rally for women’s rights and for refugee and immigrant communities she felt were attacked by President-elect Donald Trump during the campaign season.

As a physician, Ramirez often works with newly arrived refugees as their primary care doctor. She represents a minority of Christian voters who did not support Donald Trump’s as a presidential candidate.

“This is the time to stand by the vulnerable and the marginalized — these people are my neighbors,” says Ramirez, referring to the biblical commandment to love your neighbor as yourself from the New Testament book of Mark.

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Photo Gallery: Crowds gather at Trump inauguration in DC

by Christen Gall

On January 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump, the real estate tycoon, was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States at the Capitol building in Washington, D.C.  Trump ran as an anti-establishment Republican candidate during the 2016 presidential election winning without political or military experience.  Crowds wearing red hats with Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great,” watched him take the oath of office from the National Mall on a rainy Friday morning.

The crowd cheers as Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on Jan. 20, 2017. (Christen Gall/ MEDILL REPORTS)

President Barack Obama gives farewell address to the nation

By Christen Gall

President Barack Obama said farewell to the nation from his Chicago hometown this week, just miles away from Grant Park, the location of his acceptance speech eight years earlier.

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Stony Island Arts Bank works to change narrative of Chicago’s South Side

by Christen Gall

Ten minutes south of Hyde Park, the South Side’s intellectual haven, sits a neoclassic building on the unlikely corner of Stony Island Ave. and 68th St. in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood. Theaster Gates, a renowned Chicago artist, urban planner and University of Chicago professor, bought the building in 2013 for a mere $1 from the city of Chicago just before the abandoned building was set to be demolished. Gates renovated the former bank — which once stood 6-feet deep in water — into a cultural center for African American history and art. The Stony Island Arts Bank opened in Oct. 2015, aligning directly with Gates’ non-profit organization, Rebuild Foundation, and its mission to revive the city’s South Side.

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Clinton’s defeat brings remorse

By Christen Gall

Excitement shifted to somberness late in the evening at the campaign watch party for Hillary Clinton as it became clear in that Donald Trump will be the nation’s next president.

And the mood has prevailed.

“To all the women, and especially the young women who put their faith in this campaign and in me, I want you to know that nothing that has made me prouder than to be your champion,” said Clinton the following day in New York in front of media and her supporters.

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Lines swell in early voting finale across Chicago

By Christen Gall

Update: The number of early voters soared to about 325,000 in Chicago

On the final day of early voting on Monday, polling places were busy across Chicago, coping with long lines as the presidential election was at the top of many voters’ minds.

The line for early voters in downtown Chicago wrapped around half of one street and filled another in front of the “super site” for early voters at 15 W. Washington St. The lines began growing in the early morning, said election poll workers.

The early voting turnout in Illinois reached 1,267,563 on Sunday, up from a total of nearly 1.2 million across the state in 2012, according to the Illinois Board of Elections and news accounts.

Chicago saw 284,506 early voters as of Sunday, according to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, as compared a total of 243,107 for the 2012 presidential election. That is about a 17% increase.

Across the nation early voting numbers have been surging, with votes from about 42 million Americans, according to the United States Election Project. That’s up from 32.3 million early votes in 2012, according to the website.

“We’re seeing early voting up across the country,” said Michael McDonald, a professor at the University of Florida, who specializes in the American electoral process, and who maintains the United States Election Project.

He suggested that the early voting surge reflected changes in state laws, and more interest in the election among voters, prompted partly by the presidential debates.

“You might assume from that information that people have already made up their minds,” said McDonald.

As an example, he suggested that the recent emails dealing with Hillary Clinton that FBI director James Comey asked to review, may not have had an effect on people.

In Chicago the polls were slated to close at 7 p.m. for early voting, but Chicago Board of Election spokesperson Jim Allen said they could have long lines after the polls’ scheduled closing. (Those in line when the polls close must be allowed to cast ballots).

“People tend to wait till the last days [to vote],” he added.

Female voters are one group that have been highly engaged in this election, McDonald pointed out.

And one of the early voters was Lincoln Park resident Sarah Sanders, who showed up at the downtown voting location early on Monday. It was the first time she had voted early and she did so, she explained standing in the back of a long line, to avoid any possible chaos on Tuesday.

She planned to vote for Hillary Clinton and called the possibility of having the first female president, “amazing.”

“It shows a lot of change. It’s a little crazy thinking about the Cubs, and the last time the Cubs won the World Series woman couldn’t vote,” said Sanders. “I don’t think a lot of people would have thought we would see that in our generation.”

Latino voters are another group that have shown a high turnout in early voting, with reports of surges in several states, according to news reports.

Verenice Varela, a Mexican-American from Chicago’s Southwest, said she’s been more engaged than usual.

“I’ve been more involved in this election. I been reading more about both candidates than in past elections,” said Varela.

She plans to vote for Clinton, although she’s not fully satisfied with her as a candidate.

“In general I don’t think we have the best candidates, but Hillary is the one that has more experience being in office,” said Varela, who would not vote for the candidate that, “disrespects women.”

Chris Miree came out early because of conflicts with his work schedule, saying it’s one of the more important elections. He said he’s been highly engaged in the election, though he doesn’t feel emotionally involved in it.

“The previous one with Obama and (Mitt) Romney, I had faith in both candidates,” said Miree. “This one here, I’m kind of scared for both.”

Miree said he will vote for Hillary Clinton, though he doesn’t find her to be a trustworthy candidate.

“Its unconventional how one candidate basically has a campaign on insulting others and making fun of others and how well he’s doing in polls,” said Miree. “I’m kind of concerned that future candidates will try to copy that.”

Voters wait outside of the 15 W. Washington St. voting location in downtown Chicago on November 7, 2016. (Christen Gall/ MEDILL)

Graphic designers promote Clinton with ‘nasty woman’ battle cry

by Christen Gall

“Get this, Donald. Nasty women are tough, nasty women are smart, and nasty women vote,” said Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren in a perfect blend of spunk and directness delivered in a shrill feminine voice. “And on November 8, we nasty women are going to march our nasty feet to cast our nasty votes to get you out of our lives forever.”

Warren’s rebuke came after Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s now infamous comment calling Hillary Clinton, “such a nasty woman” during the final presidential debate on Oct. 19.

“I had this dual reaction,” said New York City based graphic designer Elisa Maezono after hearing Trump’s comment. She called her response both, “deep horror” and a “gleeful cathartic moment.”

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New early voting location draws more traffic

by Christen Gall

Reyna Hernandez wanted to make a difference in the election by casting her vote early on the second day of the early voting period.

“It felt like a really important statement and to see the numbers changing early, that’s one of the other reasons why I think voting early was important because it starts to send a message as folks are seeing the numbers of people voting early,” said Hernandez.

Chicago’s new voting location a few buildings down from the corner of Washington and State block, a former Walgreens, was crowded around noon Monday. Signs with early voting  were posted outside, drawing attention to the early voting location. The new “super” site was created to handle a larger number of voters.

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President Barack Obama visits Chicago weeks before the election

By Christen Gall

President Barack Obama visited Chicago over the Oct. 7-9 weekend in what could be his last visit before the general election on Nov. 8. After being greeted by Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama voted downtown, attended campaign events for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Illinois senate candidate Tammy Duckworth and spoke at the Stony Island Arts Bank near his home in Hyde Park.

The Obamas have decided to stay in Washington, D.C. after the end of the president’s second term. The president and first lady met in Chicago, and Obama started his political career from the city’s South Side. Obama’s mark will be left in Chicago in a visible way through the city’s first presidential library in Jackson Park, near the University of Chicago.

President Obama arrives in Chicago on Air Force One to campaign for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Illinois senate candidate Tammy Duckworth on Oct. 7, 2016. (Christen Gall/ MEDILL)

7th circuit court of appeals halts ruling on election day registration

By Christen Gall and Guy-Lee King

In a quick change of events Tuesday, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals halted U.S. District Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan’s ruling on election day registration in Illinois.

The three-judge panel, consisting of Diane Wood, Kenneth Ripple and Ilana Rovner, issued a temporary stay of Der-Yeghiayan’s injunction, filed on Sept. 27, which limited Illinois’ three-year-old practice of allowing voters to register to vote at precincts on election day. In Der-Yeghiayan’s original ruling, only a few locations, likely downtown, would be allowed to hold election day registration, a move that many speculated could impact the number of voters who come out to the polls, particularly in Chicago.

Jim Allen, spokesperson for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, estimated that 100,000 voters could come out on election day to register in Chicago. He predicted that changing the election day voting locations would create confusion for voters in the city and hailed the appeals court ruling.

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