Saturday, October 27, 2012

What if my early vote is just a little too late?

In The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, the character Muriel Donnelly (the inimitable Maggie Smith), an elderly woman embittered by a narrow world view and the pain and disability of a rotten hip, is compelled to move to India for her care by the English medical system that would require her to wait half a year for replacement surgery.  We listen in when the English doctor (who himself appears to hail from the South Asian continent) matter-of-factly tells her how long she must wait for relief, her comeback is, “At my age, I can’t plan that far ahead. I don’t even buy green bananas!” This, of course, is among the many lines that made KLK and me snort with laughter.

Today, because we will be away on election day, I tried for the first time ever to participate in early voting, which opened in Illinois on the 22nd.  I thought if I arrived at the nearest early voting location a few minutes after its 9:00 AM opening I wouldn’t have much of a wait. The multi-block search for a parking space near the park recreation building, which is mostly parkland and therefore wouldn’t normally be parked up by residents or errand-runners, should have been an omen. I finally tucked my car into a reasonable spot and headed to the rec center along with at least a dozen other people striding my way. Once inside, I was just as taken aback by the scene as Muriel Donnelly was by the doctor’s bad news (though I had no great comeback at the ready). The line snaked in triple-fashion around the lobby and down the hall leading to the voting booths. My wait would have been at least an hour. While I was more than thrilled to see this wonderful evidence of voter participation, I bailed, because on an errand-ful Saturday an hour is too long.  Fortunately, I will have other opportunities to try before we leave.

At least I think I will. Because Muriel’s curmudgeonly comment inspired a question:  What if I cast my vote and die before the election? If, God forbid, that happens, it turns out that in Illinois, my vote is to be rejected. Never mind the practicalities of the election authority discovering my particular expiration, and the fact that it would be impossible to trace my vote (assuming our votes are indeed anonymous as require by law), isn’t that ridiculous?

But in case you don’t believe me, here’s the 1943 code:
    (10 ILCS 5/19-11) (from Ch. 46, par. 19-11)
    Sec. 19-11. Whenever it shall be made to appear by due proof to the judges of election that any elector who has marked and forwarded his ballot as provided in this article has died prior to the opening of the polls on the date of the election, then the ballot of such deceased voter shall be returned by the judges of election in the same manner as provided for rejected ballots…

If you live in Illinois, best not vote too far ahead of time, just in case your bananas never have a chance to ripen.

1 comment:

  1. I know a person here who always only pays her house and land rates every quarter instead of for a full year, in case she dies!

    We are enjoying Maggie Smith in the Downton Abbey series currently on TV here.