(By Little Cuter, with a special appearance by FlapJilly)
Ordinarily, I’d love to spend a chilly Thursday afternoon strolling around our three-story mall, smiling at the kids in costume on parade and window shopping and perchance happening upon a mid-season sale at Baby GAP. However, this afternoon I was incensed, and in the midst of my healthy rage I called the one person I knew who would commiserate:
“Hi Mama! Oh boy do I have a blog post for YOU!”
You see, it was all planned perfectly. I had done my research on the dates and times early voting was available,(taken directly from this website:)
With my little bean strapped to me in a wrap, we made our way to the Aurora Public Library, taking the earlier website’s word for it that ANY DuPage County Early Voting Site would be able to take my vote. I had voted here twice before - once for a local election and once for the Presidential election. Both times the line had been short to non-existent, the helpers friendly and clean, and the process as delightful as it was when my own mom took me to vote each year growing up.
However, after standing in line for 10 minutes at the library, I heard a helper telling the man 5 voters in front of me that residents of DuPage County could not vote at this location... the location that is located smack dab in the middle of DuPage County... with a line of DuPage County citizens snaking out the door. He told us that this was stated on the website.
Am I mistaken with my information in any of these screenshots?
If we wanted to vote, we would have to go to the location in the Fox Valley Mall.
Determined to set a good example for my daughter (yes, she is only three months old, but it’s never too early for a lesson in civics! Plus, the buttons on the voting machines are fun to push), I strapped her back in to her car seat and we headed to the mall.
The “helper” at the Library told us to park near Sears and that the polling place would be between Sears and Carson’s. Never mind that the two stores are not next to one another in the mall.
FlapJilly and I parked, had a quick diaper change, strapped her up in the wrap and headed in to the Mall. There was nary a sign to be found.
I walked in to Sears; no one knew where to send me. I walked across the mall in to Carson’s, no one knew that you could even vote early (don’t get me started….) and finally, after fifteen minutes of walking the mall (fifteen minutes with an infant, mind you, is almost an eternity), I found a security guard who pointed me to the polling place - if anyone in DuPage County is reading this, it’s on the UPPER LEVEL of the mall, past Sears, near entrance 3.
I walked right up, breathed a sigh of relief, and signed myself in- a full HOUR after I had arrived at the Library.
The men in charge of the check-in table spent the time I was filling out my form telling me that they had posted signs all around the mall directing people, and the city came by and TOOK THEM ALL DOWN.
When I walked in to the voting room, the only other people there were the friends I had made earlier in the Library, who were just as determined and flustered as I was. When we finished casting our votes, rather than enjoying the rush of receiving our “I VOTED” stickers, the dog walker who was ahead of me in line at the Library and I asked simultaneously, “Where do we complain about this and get it fixed before Election Day?”
Now imagine that you are a first time voter. Heck, imagine you are a veteran voter and have waited until Election Day to cast your ballot. Imagine you have taken time off work to participate in our great democracy and this had happened to you. Would you have taken the extra time to go to a second location? Would you have been able to cast your vote before polling closed? I am lucky; I am on Maternity Leave and had the entire day (well, until naptime at least) to find my polling place. What type of message is our government sending to its constituents by not even allowing signs directing people to participate in the government we all support and fight for?
The 2013 census found that only 64% of the population had voted in the presidential election, and the numbers were even smaller for local elections, where individual votes are arguably even more important and affect the day to day lives of residents in a much more relatable way.
I’ve always encouraged my friends and family members to cast their votes. Like my mom taught me, “If you don’t vote, you haven’t earned the right to complain”. However, if I were on the fence, or a first time voter, and this situation presented itself, I would have given up.
And I don’t blame anyone else who would either.... and where would that leave us?
Thankfully, our story has a happy ending, and a happy little bean who got her first lesson in civics today: BE PERSISTENT!