Skip to main content
  1. News
  2. Politics
  3. Government

Early voting the Chicago Way

See also

More Photos

*/

When you vote, you’re supposed to be free from electioneering. Campaign operatives and sign-wavers are supposed to, by Illinois law, stay 100 feet away from the polling place. No one’s supposed to be able to pressure you as you stand or sit, waiting to cast your ballot.

The Chicago polling place where I cast my early ballot, though, is a veritable shrine to Barack Obama. The slide show accompanying this article will give you a pretty good idea.

It’s a dingy city building in Jackson Park, just a couple of miles from where the President of the United States used to live, one of 51 early voting sites in the city.

Though the election judge forecast the wait at Jackson Park at about an hour, it actually took 2½ hours to cast a ballot on the morning I visited, with the waiting line snaking down a long hallway, around a corner, and then back again.

A giant collage lined the hallway, a celebration of Black History Month. It’s unclear how long it had been there. Black History Month is, after all, generally observed in February.

This display looks like it may well have been in place since February of 2009, a few weeks after Barack Obama was sworn in. There are a few photos of African-American pioneers like W.E.B. Dubois and Jack Johnson, but after a few feet of wall space, it’s all Obama and his historic inauguration.

The collage clippings uniformly adulatory. “The Spirit of Camelot” and “Diverse Crowd Came out to Support Obama” read the headlines. Above it all, homemade lettering spells out the 2008 campaign slogan— Obama Yes We Can.

It’s certainly not the even-handed, electioneering-free atmosphere election law and fairness call for. That call can be found on a lonely-looking poster entitled “Electioneering Prohibited” hanging on the wall opposite the collage.

Though the collage seems blatantly unfair in a polling place, it's likely that few votes have been swayed. This is Obama territory, with or without a mural. All the chatter about ballot choices ahead was pro-Obama in the largely African-American crowd. Inside the polling place, one woman said “Jesus willing, we’ll make some history again.”

Maybe they’ll update the collage in Jackson Park with news of a second Obama inauguration.

Comments

Advertisement

News

  • Gaza school shelled
    Israeli airstrikes topple a school in Gaza suspected of housing rockets; dozens killed
    Video
    Video
  • Ebola outbreak
    An American with Ebola virus died shortly after boarding three planes
    World News
  • Why dogs smell butts
    Researchers figure out why dogs like to smell each other's butts
    Pets
  • Time to stop tanning
    The surgeon general advises us not to tan as melanoma cases are on the rise
    Health News
  • Zimmerman lands dream job
    George Zimmerman lands his dream job as a security guard at a gun/motorcycle shop
    Headlines
  • 10 smartest states
    Here are the 10 most educated states in the U.S., did yours make the cut?
    US News