This was my second time working as a judge of election, and it really does change your perspective on voting.
I've sort of become our precinct's 'expert' on assisted voting. Rogers Park has a very diverse population (which is part of why I moved here) so we have a lot of immigrant voters. Many of them start showing up around 3pm, once the kids are out of school and can help mom and dad translate. Lots of Spanish but a couple of Eastern European languages as well.
We also have an assisted-living facility on my block, so we have quite a few folks who need assistance because of a disability. Since I'm up on all the rules and forms involved, I'm usually the one who gets them set up. * And since I have a very clear speaking voice I'm usually the choice for someone who needs the ballot read put to them. We counted today - with all the judicial retention on there this time around, it took at least 20 minutes to get through an assisted ballot, and I'm pretty sure I did at least 10 of them. The amount of paperwork these folks have to get through to do all this , never mind any physical challenges they have to work with just to exercise a right that most of us take for granted? Let's just say I'm a lot less patient with people who don't bother to vote. Some of them show up better-prepared than many of the able-bodied voters.
I'm certainly not putting anyone on a pedestal here - one guy drooled on me while he was signing his forms, there were two cases of BO enough to make me gag, and a couple of others that were clearly not going to be eligible for Mensa any time soon - but that could be said for many of the able-bodied voters as well.
Once you've been profusely thanked by a Somali immigrant in his painfully halting English, or once you've spent half an hour going over the ballot with a paraplegic man who indicated his choices by raising the two usable fingers on his right hand and grunting .....yeah, not a lot of patience for people who can't manage to find 20 minutes sometime during a month to sit down and do your job.
*in Illinois, anyone can request assistance in voting, either because of difficulty reading or writing in English or because of a physical disability. They can either bring someone to assist them or if they request it then one judge from each party will assist together, so as to keep each other honest. The voter signs a form that says 'yes I am requesting help' and the person(s) sign a form that says 'I agree to assist this person without trying to influence their vote.' and then both of these are witnessed by an election judge, who can't be one of the two judges assisting.
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