When I was little, I remember going with my parents to the polls on Election Day. We would walk into a booth, draw the curtain, and they would punch the card to make their choices. Afterward, they never doubted whether the process was fair, or whether their vote would somehow not be counted.
My, how things have changed. But our sacred right to vote has not. Our right to vote in free and fair elections remains at the center of our democratic society.
This right is special. It’s what distinguishes our nation from most others on the planet. Leadership is not determined by bloodline or by battle. In the USA, on a prescribed schedule and with specific rules in place, every citizen who meets legal voter requirements has an opportunity to cast a ballot.
As eligible voters, we also have the right to know with certainty that our voting process is pristine.
In the April 6 election this year, voter turnout in DuPage County was a pathetic 17%. To put that into perspective, for every four voters who cast ballots, 25 registered voters didn’t bother to vote. This, when the people on the ballot are the ones responsible for delivering community services, for educating our kids, and for setting the taxes we pay for these items. And this, when early voting and vote by mail made voting easier than it’s ever been.
I must wonder if many didn’t bother to vote because they have lost faith in our electoral process. Public confidence in elections is low. Every time we learn of ballot errors, or voting machine problems, our trust in our system of voting erodes just a bit further.
The recent announcement that there will be a full ballot recount in the DuPage County Auditor’s race is just the latest example of why our trust in elections is waning. This recount was ordered by a DuPage County judge, because a significant number of ballots were missing the required initials of the election judge who signed in the voter and issued the ballot.
While many may believe this step does not represent a fatal flaw, the Illinois Supreme Court has ruled on this issue and has determined that this step in the process is vital to ensuring the integrity of the ballot. By placing their initials on the ballot, the election judge is swearing the ballot was issued properly to a duly registered voter. Election rules are in place for a reason, and must be followed. Future faith in the integrity of our elections depends upon it.