Opinion

The power of one vote

Rhonda Silence starnews@boreal.org unorganizedterritory.me

I had a lot of fun on Election Night 2014 on air with Jay Andersen and Roger Linehan on WTIP Community Radio. I don’t know how I ended up being part of the WTIP election news team, but I have enjoyed taking part for a few years now.

I hope listeners did too. We know at least one person was tuned in—Sherrie Lindskog who brought us some delicious bread pudding with a vanilla cream sauce. Thanks, Sherrie!

I think we do make a good team. Jay and Roger are much more in tune with the regional and national races and the ballot measures across the United States. They are more hard news—I’m there to lighten the mood a bit.

I fill in the slow spots with information on our local electoral process. I turn to Cook County Auditor Braidy Powers for that information. Braidy is our “go-to” guy for many things, but especially inquiries on elections or financial questions.

So he was happy to provide replies to my questions about precinct numbers and voter registration. I asked how many election judges are there and who are they? Braidy gave me a complete list so I could give a shout out to them on the radio. Of course they were hard at work counting ballots, so they likely didn’t hear me. But I do appreciate their efforts.

Braidy was able to answer the question of whether election judges are paid—yes they are, $10 an hour and mileage.

Asked what the county saves by conducting mail ballots, Braidy had historical data on the last election before mail balloting began in 1994. That election process cost the county $49,175. The next election, with mail ballots in 1996, cost $38,702—a savings of $10,473. However, answer man Braidy said that does not factor in the cost of setting up polling places to be in accordance with today’s handicap accessible guidelines and the installation of new vote-counting technology.

Good information. I also try to lighten the election evening reporting with some “color”— historical voting trivia or silly quotes from politicians or about politicians.

One of the best historical tidbits I found while researching elections this year was a Cook County referendum item in 1933. An article in the September 14, 1933 issue of the Cook County News-Herald reported that the voters of Cook County went to the polls that Tuesday to indicate their choice on the return of the old fashioned saloon. The article went on to list how each township voted—“wet or dry.”

Interestingly, the now defunct township of Mineral Center was tied with 13 votes for “wet” and 13 votes for “dry.” None of the townships voted in favor of staying “dry” and Colvill, it was noted had 16 votes for “wet” and 0 for “dry.”

The measure to bring back the saloon passed in the county, by a vote of 42 to 145.

Some very silly election trivia. But no sillier than the quote I found attributed to Abraham Lincoln. I have been unable to authenticate when and where Lincoln spoke the words, so I’m stressing that it is attributed to him. But it’s a great quote on elections, no matter who said it:

"Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters."

This has never been truer than in this election. At press time the county is awaiting the outcome of a tie election. One more vote for one of the east end candidates—Kristin DeArruda Wharton or Frank Moe—and that Commissioner District election would be over. Although a recount would have still been possible, it is now undoubtedly going to happen. And the candidates must suffer for a few more days of wondering if they’ve won or not.

The west end of the county as well—only five votes separate the two candidates, Bruce Martinson and Commissioner-elect Ginny Storlie. If six more people had cast their vote would there be a different outcome?

We need to remember this when the next election rolls around. It’s easy to think your vote doesn’t count in state and national elections where it is one of many among thousands. But it does. One vote by one vote, the tally is counted.

And as you can see in the microcosm of America that is Cook County, one vote truly does count.

There's no trick to being a
humorist when you have the whole
government working for you.
Will Rogers


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