Voting discussed at JPNA meeting
by BRIAN NADIG
The different ways to vote in Chicago and committing the city to clean energy were discussed at the Sept. 26 meeting of the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association.
Association member Liz Jurkacek, who is a volunteer voting registrar, said that those planning to vote at their precinct polling place on Election Day on Nov. 6 should confirm their location ahead of time as changes are possible.
Residents can find polling locations by visiting the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners’ Web site at chicagoelections.com and clicking on "your voter information," Jurkacek said. By entering your name and address, residents can confirm that they are registered and check their polling place, she said.
Those voters who have concerns about handicapped accessibility of their polling place should look at early voting options, Jurkacek said.
Chicago residents can vote at any early voting location in the city, and they will be given the ballot that is specific to their precinct, elections board spokesman James Allen said in an interview.
On Election Day, voting at a location other than someone’s assigned polling place is allowed, but ballots for other precincts are not available at each polling place, Allen said. As a result, a voter’s ballot may only count for countywide offices, since they cannot vote for candidates that do not serve their precinct, he said.
Voting by mail has become increasingly popular, and the city could break its record for mail-in ballots this year, Allen said.
The elections board has received 67,000 mail-in ballot requests as of early October. The total number of mail-in ballots for the presidential election in 2016 was about 93,000, and the record is 116,000 in 1944, when many Chicago residents were fighting overseas in World War II.
Voter registration is permitted up to and on Election Day in Chicago, and registration is available until Sunday, Oct. 21, on the elections board’s Web site. Those seeking to register during early voting should bring two forms of identification, one of which must include the current address. A lease or a bank statement with the correct address can be used as one of the forms of identification.
While identification is not required for registered voters on Election Day, the elections board recommends having identification handy in case a voter’s status is challenged. There could be confusion if two voters have the same name, according to the elections board.
"Someone can stop you from voting if you don’t have your ID with you," Jurkacek said. A provisional ballot may be used in some circumstances.
Jurkacek also said that reports of widespread voter fraud linked to undocumented immigrants, including those with driver’s licenses, are not true.
"I want to dispel you of that notion," she said. "The fact that you have a driver’s license gives you no more right to vote. You have to be a U.S. citizen. It’s the number one requirement."
Meanwhile, the association approved a resolution in support of the Sierra Club’s goal of U.S. cities sourcing all of their electricity from clean, renewable energy, such as wind and solar, by 2050.
The organization has been seeking support form community groups to help show the City Council that residents want clean energy throughout the city. "100 percent. It’s what they’re aiming for. No carbon," association secretary Peter Insley said.
Last year Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that the city was committed to transitioning its municipal buildings to clean energy by 2025. The city also has launched an initiative to encourage clean energy for some private proprieties by 2035.
It is estimated that in the past decade, 12,700 premature deaths from fossil fuel pollution in the United States could have been prevented due to the use of wind and solar energy, according to the Sierra Club.
Also at the meeting, Chicago firefighter Jim Gardiner announced his candidacy for 45th Ward alderman. "I live on the same block I grew up on. I teach at Taft when off-duty," Gardiner said.
Also challenging incumbent Alderman John Arena are former association president Robert Bank and Chicago Park District regional manager Marilyn Morales.
The association also approved for 2-year terms vice president Brian Wardman, secretary Peter Insley and directors Lottie Blumenthal, Ron Ernst and Libby Baronian.
The association elects half of its board each year.
The association’s next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24, at the Congregational Church of Jefferson Park, 5320 W. Giddings St.
The association is co-sponsoring a community garage sale from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21, in the parking lot at the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave.