Chicago Voting Rant

Today was my first experience voting as an Illinois resident and I learned an important lesson about stereotypical Chicago voting behavior…


As if Chicago doesn’t have a bad enough reputation of rampant voter fraud and shady election practices, my first impression of how Chicago (in particular, Oak Park, IL) approaches the experience did nothing but reinforce those old stereotypes.

Upon arriving at my polling place I approached the sign-in table and the election judge requested my name. She quickly found my record and I signed in; no problems so far. The election judge then asked me if I preferred a paper or touch-screen ballot and while she took a second to prepare the one I requested I asked if they wanted to see my Voter Identification Card and/or Photo ID.

She said, “No that’s okay, we don’t need to see it.” After blinking in silence for a few seconds I looked at another election judge standing next to the table who just smiled at me and said “We trust you, you have an honest face.”

At which point they handed me my ballot and I cast my vote. Not once throughout this entire process did an election official ever bother to verify my Photo ID or ensure that I had an Illinois state issued Voter Identification Card.

Perhaps I should go to a different polling place and vote again; after all, I have an honest face. Maybe I can bring my cat along so he can cast a vote, he has an honest face too…

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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3 thoughts on “Chicago Voting Rant

  1. Well, Drew, you DO have an honest face. And, maybe, they figured if you gave your name and they found you listed and you signed your name, correctly, that they could trust you. By the way, were the elections officials older ladies?

    It wasn’t the best way to ensure a fair election, but it’s rather refreshing that they trusted you. Like the olden days…..

  2. The state requires you to display voter ID card and the poll workers didn’t enforce that? Oy.

    I should note, however, that the matter of voter ID is complicated, and traditionally they’ve been used to harrass “undesirable” voters.

  3. Margaret: one judge looked to be a middle age gentleman and the other was perhaps in her 50’s.

    Lisa: I thought they should have checked my ID too, I’ve always had that happen in every other election where I’ve voted, even in primary’s.

    I know it’s tough to find and train election judges but this seemed a bit egregious, especially since I asked if they wanted to see the ID.

    Maybe this is just a sign I should go to Vegas for the weekend…

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