The general elections are now a week away, and for the first time ever, I casted my vote by mail. It was an unusual experience.
On the one hand, I will miss the experience of voting next Tuesday, November 4. I will miss presenting my voter registration card and collecting a ballot from a volunteer, and being handed a receipt upon completion. I will miss thanking those volunteers in person, and I will even miss walking by those people stationed at a coordinated distance outside the polling place, handing out pamphlets for the candidate they are working for.
Heck, I wish I could pass by someone hawking for Bruce "The Ruiner" Rauner. Vote for him??? Right... because a living wage is a bad thing. Good luck planning that pension, dude or ma'am.
So I will miss the in-person experience of voting, at least this year. Yet, after receiving and opening the big envelope in the mail this past week, of holding this ballot outside the familiar confines of my local polling station, and thinking to myself, "Wow, how surreal. Is it legal for me to be doing this? To be holding this pristine ballot in the privacy and comfort of my own bedroom?".... I looked at the ballot, and scanned the long list of judicial retention nominees. And then looked at my computer, then back to the list. My feeling of novelty around this new in-home voting experience departed, and I went into research mode.
See, this is the part that I keep missing, during election cycles... those judicial retention nominees. Over previous elections, I confess to have shown up at the polling station ill-informed about such nominees, wondering afterward whether I had enabled a Judge Dread to remain in power. And refusing to vote "yes" or "no" next to the name of a candidate is the same as casting an affirmative. This was news to me.
This time around, my "no" votes would be decisive. And they need to be, because only enough "no" votes will help evict judges who don't deserve to be behind the bench. With the help of my Firefox browser, I was ready, and typed the search queries "Cook County," "elections," and "judicial retention."
What I discovered is below the squashed pumpkin.