Your early-voting election guide, plus results of our totally scientific early-voting exit poll | Bleader

Friday, November 2, 2012

Your early-voting election guide, plus results of our totally scientific early-voting exit poll

Posted By on 11.02.12 at 01:02 PM

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An early voter casting his ballot in Chicago last week
It's not too late to vote early. Chicago voters can vote until 5 PM today, or between 9 AM and 5 PM tomorrow, the final day for early voting. Every ward has a polling place, and there's one downtown at the Board of Elections, 69 W. Washington. Chicagoans can vote at any of these sites, no matter where they live.

For a hint on the shortest lines, the Board of Elections offers this tabulation of early voting thus far in the various polling places. Through October 27, Davis Square Park, in the 15th Ward at 4430 S. Marshfield, had the least ballots cast: 274. Mt. Greenwood Park, in the 19th Ward at 3721 W. 111th, led the neighborhood polling places in ballots cast, with 3,172. At the Board of Elections, 9,982 ballots had been cast, but that site also has the most personnel and equipment.

The deadline for registering to vote was October 9, but those who missed it can still register and vote, because of a grace period that also ends Saturday. Grace-period registration is at 69 W. Washington.

The kind of people voting today and tomorrow—those who wait until the last minute to do things ahead of time—are exceptionally healthy psychologically, according to several studies yet to be conducted. Late early voters have lower rates of neuroses and obsessiveness than early early voters, and lower procrastination rates than Election Day voters.

Election Day voting was once an activity undertaken with pride. Now Election Day voters are widely seen as people who can't get their shit together to vote ahead of time, the way responsible citizens do. Early voters get a cheerful "I voted!" sticker. Election Day voters will get a sticker that says "Slacker."

With Barack Obama and Mitt Romney neck and neck, the presidential race is likely to come down to undecided voters. So this week we conducted a completely scientific exit poll, with an error margin of plus or minus 50 percent, of the crucial early-voting undecided voters. We knew they were undecided voters because they wavered between using the touch screen and the paper ballots.

Unfortunately, our interviews outside polling places shed little light on this key voting bloc, because most of these voters said they were undecided even after they voted. Their indecision had caused them great anxiety, and they'd voted early to put themselves out of their misery. In the presidential race, half of them flipped a coin, and the other half employed the eenie, meenie, minie, moe method.

"At the end of September, I was for Obama," a woman at the Archer Heights library told us. "But that first debate pushed me to Romney. Then the second debate pushed me back to Obama. After the third debate, I was back where I started, undecided. I felt like a bumper car, going back and forth like that."

"I had to vote as soon as possible—I couldn't focus on my work," an undecided voter said outside of the Pottawatomie Park field house. But voting early meant more stressful decisions, he said: "Downtown or in my neighborhood? Morning or afternoon? Parka or cardigan?"

Most undecided couples reported splitting their vote. An undecided woman at the Merlo library on Belmont said she expected Romney to do better than Obama with undecideds, because "we can identify with him. His flip-flopping really appeals to us."

The undecided voters said they found it much easier voting on the long list of judges up for retention. Most used the every-other-one method.

A better way to vote on judges is to use the sample ballot of the Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice and its affiliate, the Chicago Council of Lawyers, which put countless hours into evaluating candidates for the bench and for retention.

Voting in the 2016 presidential race, between Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie, begins Wednesday.

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