Wednesday, March 22, 2006

News From the Front

Walking pneumonia or not, it's Election Day and I've been up and at it. A few observations as I take a break from my morning activities:

Given the new ballots and machines, there seem to be fewer problems this morning than in past elections. The fact that turnout is light has also taken pressure off of getting people used to the new voting methods.

People seem to like the new ballots better than the old punchcards, but NOBODY wants to use the optical screen voting machines. I talked to a few voters about it and the universal response was that they don't trust the machines and are worried about their votes being counted.

While turnout is light on the northside, it's not as light as I thought that it would be. I've spoken with some people in some southside and westside wards, however, and was told that their 10 a.m. counts were LOW. Advantage: Claypool, Giannoulias.

Spoke to some people in Springfield, not as much snow as they expected, but icy as can be, and schools closed. I'm not sure what that will do to local races down there, but it's got to be good for Topinka and pretty good for Alexi.

I'm off to go check out some different areas around the City. One thing I am going to take a look at is what effect all of the recent reforms has had on the old-school organizations. Two ways to measure that - one is turnout at the end of the day, but that doesn't control for inate voter incentive and decision-making. The other, maybe more reliable, indicator is to take a look at how much manpower is out in the streets. I'll update this post later.

UPDATE - 6:00p.m. First off, I HATE Blogger today. I have been unable to post for the last couple of hours. In any event, looks like turnout in what should be Stroger wards picked up this afternoon. But lakefront wards, while relatively light this morning, are pretty strong in the evening rush. Same thing with suburban Cook. I wish we would be able to go back and see a running vote count on this one as the day progressed.

For what it's worth, right now I'm calling the Board President race too close to call, and saying that it's going to turn on the last 2 hours of polling.

I have also heard that the Repub Gov's race is going to be much tighter than people were thinking. If Oberweis somehow were to pull this out, the well-coiffed guy you see dancing on Sunnyside tonight would be our Governor. I'm still calling Topinka a winner though.

After volumes of positive television and negative mail, it looks like the Treasurer's race may well turn on downstate weather, which I guess falls in the "act of God" category (Wonder if he's Greek?). Other than that, the interesting numbers to look at will be progressive wards whose organizations nevertheless went with Mangieri. If they were able to deliver their votes their way, it could tip the scales. For all the talk about the importance of a downstate candidate, if Mangieri wins, it will be because he was carried in by Chicago organizations. Ironic. Think about that one folks. For now, I'm saying that Alexi runs better than expected downstate and pulls this one out. It's the aftermath that will be interesting.

3rd Congressional - Sounds like the forces are delivering for Dan Lipinski. Look for a win but by a single digit margin.

Water Rec - Who the hell knows? In the interest of sticking my neck out just a little bit, I'll say that Shore and O'Brien are in. As far as the third one is concerned, grab the 8 Ball and turn it over, it's as good as any guess I could make.

I'm off to clean up and head back out. (Election Day is much more enjoyable when you're not under the weather.)

UPDATE - 7:30p.m. Sounds like southside turnout was real light toward the end of the evening, could be a late evening before we know what the story is with the Board President race.

Coming as no surprise, looks like my good friend David Miller is going to win in a laugher. (Won't these guys ever learn?) In light of the stunts involved in that race, look for some fallout from that contest.

No real word on anything else yet. We're getting our first results in now.

UPDATE - 8:35p.m. Still too early to tell, but the Stroger numbers from the northside are continuing to be stronger than expected. Claypool's carrying up here, but the margins aren't what some had hoped. I have no other County numbers though, so this observation is in a little bit of a vacuum.

I've talked with a bunch of folks around the City and State, and not hearing any real surprises thus far. Results are coming in slower than I'd like, but we were informed that that would be the case.

Just got a call with some numbers from Lake County where Alexi is swamping Mangieri. The early downstate numbers show him holding his own as well.

...Except for Metro East, where's he's doing a lot better than that. I know it's real early, and at the risk of embarassing myself, looking at the trends so far, I think I'm about ready to call this one done.

I'm going to make a few stops, so updates may be far and few between for a bit.

Still some real interesting House races out there. Regardless, I'll have some insights and recap tomorrow.

UPDATE - 12:30a.m. Looks like my early hunches are holding. Have a feeling that the Board President race could be out for a long while still. From what I'm hearing, the precincts that are still out should be Stroger precincts. Whether they are enough to overcome his present 18,000 vote deficit remains to be seen. The media is treating this one with kid gloves because it's so volatile. It sure as heck won't be known by the time that I go to sleep, which will be a couple of minutes after this post. I don't even know that it will be done by this time tomorrow night.

On top of everything else, I wouldn't be shocked if this one somehow winds up in court. The rhetoric over the late ballots is heating up quickly. Just has that feeling to it.

In House action, Lisa Hernandez from Lt. Gov. Quinn's office is a big winner, and I think she'll be a great addition to the House.

I can't get current numbers from Calvin Giles race and am hearing conflicting reports from people who both would seem to have good info, but it looks like he may be in big trouble.

And Sam Cahnman looks to have pulled out a big upset over the House Dem pick Chuck Redpath.

On the Senate side, Geo-Karis has lost, but deserves everybody's respect for a long career of service.

And for what it's worth, for all the Chicago/Downstate talk during the Treasurer's race, the latest numbers look like Alexi won the counties outside of Cook by 30,000 votes.

There's a bunch more I could get into, but I'm wiped out.

To everybody who voted, whoever you voted for, thank you for being part of the process.


At March 21, 2006 at 2:30 PM, Anonymous Kelby J. Phillips said...

I used the touch screen voting and found it super easy to use. You simply touch the box next to the name you want to vote for and it puts an X in the box. When you are done they show you on screen who all you voted for. Then it prints out a paper listing of your votes and you can check that to make sure it is who you voted for. If you want to, you can go back and make changes, or accept it. There is no reason to have any less confidence that they counted your vote correctly, because once you turn in your optical scan or punch card ballot you are also trusting a machine to count it.

At March 21, 2006 at 2:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Afternoon predictions?

At March 21, 2006 at 4:10 PM, Anonymous LeaningD said...

I voted early with the touch screen and loved it. But to be sure that there was a paper record, I requested to review a printout -- it was really cool, it printed a list of all of my votes (including a write-in) on a strip of paper behind the glass. When I OK'd it it rolled up into the machine. I still don't trust David orr, but at least I forced him to physically destroy something if they want to tamper with the votes.
I'd encourage everyone to use the touchscreen and do the same.

At March 21, 2006 at 5:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm told Evanston Twp only had a 17 percent turnout as of 2 p.m.

If true, that's fatal for Claypool.

At March 21, 2006 at 5:31 PM, Blogger Amy Allen said...

I'm sure other people feel the same way about Orr, but did you think he would personally tamper with your vote?

At March 21, 2006 at 6:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rep. Fritchey,

Thanks for taking the time out to do this on Election Day. As a political junkie, it's some good stuff. Just another reason that you got my vote today.

At March 21, 2006 at 6:45 PM, Blogger Howie said...

You do a great job commenting and giving us insight on what goes on.

I'm praying for a Claypool win.

It's a shame I don't live in your district! I hope you run statewide someday.

At March 21, 2006 at 7:08 PM, Anonymous Mike G said...

I feel so dirty. I just voted on the other party's ballot in the primary. Is that sleazy? Well, too late now if it is.
Things were pretty quiet here when I got to the polls about 45 minutes before closing. The big book of voter slips also looked to be mostly full. They tear out half a page when someone votes, but the outside half didn't seem to be thinner than the inside half of the book. I'm guessing turnout is pretty low around here.
I really wish Illinois had an open primary where I could just pick one candidate from any party for each race. Or maybe just separate ballots for local and state offices. Here in Chicago Republicans almost never get elected, so all the action is usually during the primaries. Being a Republican, I really don't like to have to give up my primary vote for statewide offices where the GOP has a shot just to have any voice at all in local politics.

At March 21, 2006 at 8:08 PM, Anonymous Way Downstate said...

Rep. Fritchey,

Honest question...based on what you saw during the Primary with neither candidate doing anything impressive, any regrets about not running for Treasurer?

At March 21, 2006 at 8:38 PM, Blogger Hon. John Fritchey said...


At March 21, 2006 at 9:41 PM, Blogger Randall Sherman said...

Sorry Rep. Fritchey, but your ealier comments about how well the new system is working was rather mistaken. Out in th 41st Ward on th Far Northwest Side, we have now seen six precincts where the results are having to be taken down to the Board of Election Commissioners, because the tabulating equipment failed to work. Meanwhile in 14 precincts in that ward we have reports of voters being turned away due to precinct or polling place changes or other reasons.

I fear we will have more problems as the evening progresses.

Secretary/Treasurer, Illinois Committee for Honest Government

At March 22, 2006 at 7:08 AM, Anonymous silentk said...

In the 47th Ward, I was offered the chance to vote on the touch screen. The polling place was empty at 7:30am.

It took the judge two tries to get the "hotel-room" key card activated, and when she had me place it into the touch screen machine a big red INVALID screen appeared.

The poll watcher went to great lengths to explain to the judge that the machine was not broken, and that an invalid card happens only one in a hundred times.

There was no way to eject the card - without shutting down the machine and letting it reboot - a five minute process, as explained by the poll watcher to the judge.

At that point, I asked to vote via optical scanner - and while I felt like a grade schooler with my over-sized ballot and cardboard vote-hider... marking the ballot was simple.

After inserting the ballot I noticed a receipt marked "Over Ballot Cast." It took another five minutes to be convinced that if it really had been an over ballot, the ballot would have spit back out of the machine. It wasn't until I noticed the time stamp on the over ballot receipt, which was well before my ballot had been cast and I pointed out the time stamp to the judge.

The point here is that while our elecion judges are to be commended for their time and dedication on election day - quite often they are inadequately trained to know how to deal with every situation which may come up. ("It's 4:00am, and here's how this new machine works...")

There will be a lot of talk about how this new system, and merging ballot counts, has failed - which will not bring confidence in getting out the vote come November.

7:00am - things don't look good for Claypool.

At March 22, 2006 at 3:18 PM, Anonymous southernilrepub said...

Rep. Fritchey,

I will admit that while I was not at first a JBT supporter, I'm now behind her. Would have like to see Mr. Brady win, at least the milkdufus didn't win. So here is my question for you, when can we count on your endorsement for JBT!!!

At March 23, 2006 at 2:06 PM, Blogger Kanyon21 said...


Why are you behind her? Because of her political stances or is it out of necessity....loyalty to the party?

At March 25, 2006 at 4:05 AM, Anonymous 36th Wardman said...

Lisa Hernandez will be great in the House.

Rep. Fritchey, did you find the Trib's making fun of her when they endorsed her non-Chavez opponent to be way too mean-spirited? They made fun of her for saying that the state should have some role in dealing with the rat problem in Cicero, and then saying that she doesn't understand the role of state government. Last time I checked, the state does indeed give funding for these local expenditures (some may call it pork, but it's part of the routine), and I think that Lisa knows something about state government considering that she's had a top role in Lt Gov Quinn's office for the past 4 years.


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