Manifolds, Manolos and Manure
April marked an important moment for Illinois. No, not April Fool’s Day. Or spring showers. Not even Hug a Newsperson Day. And unfortunately, not my personal favorite, Jeep 4x4 Day. Instead of my favorite, glossy black Jeep Grand Cherokee, April brings us our local government elections.
Every two years we have the opportunity (yes, opportunity) to elect our local officials, our mayors, aldermen, supervisors, road Commissioners, library board, and more!
Local officials touch individuals’ lives more often than the President, U.S. Senators, Congressmen, State Senators, or State Representatives. Think I’m wrong?
You want to build a fence? Local government. Your garbage not being removed? Local government. Oh, you want to add that pool in your backyard. Local government. Can’t make it to work because your road isn’t plowed. Local government. Unhappy that you can’t get that cable channel? Local government. Neighbor’s dog keeping you up all night. Local government.
Prior to moving to our new-to-us farmhouse, I served as aldermen for nearly four years. It wasn’t glamorous. It was a lot of meetings. Finance. Zoning and Ordinance. Park Board. Library Board. A lot of meetings. Over the years, I handled water bill complaints. ‘No truck’ traffic road signs. And a zoning ordinance rewrite that briefly included backyard chickens.
Local government isn’t glamourous. It is fancy. It may sound cliché but it’s more like making sausage. You just chug along. And things slowly move forward.
In April, voter turnout hit another low. Perhaps it was voter fatigue or pandemic fatigue. Just under 75,000 Cook County voters graced the polls during early voting this spring. In comparison nearly 433,000 Cook County early voters traveled to the polls prior to the November 2020 election. Historically, voter turnout for off-year elections is low, especially compared to turnout during a Presidential Election.
This fall’s Presidential Election was highly political, contentious, and well-attended. Perhaps voters were tired this spring or needed a break after the onslaught of political ads and negativity. Or perhaps it was the continuing controversy over the election results.
Arguably, the low turnout in April could have also been a result of the psychological letdown among some voters after the November election. I was raised to respect the office regardless of which party won. I guess you can say I’m a “movin’ on and movin’ out” kind of person.
Political experts worry that the low turnout was due to the nationwide controversy over Georgia’s recent election law change. Generally, statute changes places restrictions on vote by mail procedures and increases the legislature’s control over elections. Notably, photo identification is required for absentee vote by mail and the timeframe for absentee voting is reduced.
Regardless of the reason and regardless of how non-glamorous local government is, it is incredibly important that individuals vote in off-year elections. Local government touches your life daily. Lawn too long? Code enforcer may be visiting. Garbage cans not put away. Hello again code enforcer. Want to add a driveway. Local government.
Local government touches individuals’ lives daily. Every single day.