THE BLOG

How Are Illinois Elections and Mexican Elections Alike?

04/30/2015 01:20 pm ET | Updated Jun 30, 2015

In Illinois, redistricting is handled by the very legislators who can benefit from the way the political lines are drawn. Reboot Illinois' Madeleine Doubek explains how this gerrymandering reminds her of a Mexican election she covered about 30 years ago.

Doubek writes:

When I think about the latest effort to stop gerrymandering, it reminds me of covering my first election. Just about 30 years ago, I had a terrific opportunity to cover my first one just after I'd graduated from journalism school at Eastern Illinois University.

I was a Pulliam Fellow (meaning a post-graduate special intern) for a summer at the Arizona Republic and the international desk needed some people down near the Mexican border to keep an eye on things for a local election one weekend.

Yes, my first election working as a reporter was in Mexico. On a Sunday. They have elections on Sundays in Mexico, presumably so more voters participate. Election Day is a national holiday and booze sales were banned on Election Day back then.

Hmmm, interesting ideas for boosting civic participation, yes?

Anyway, in the small border town I was watching, people started getting agitated because the story was spreading that as their friends and neighbors went to vote, very early in the day, they'd stuff their paper ballots into the box and could feel it already was full.

And then there were reports that people were standing in long lines to vote and the federales would come along and pull certain people who were known supporters of the wrong candidates out of line and toss them in jail.

By nightfall, a crowd gathered in front of the police station. The crowd turned into a mob, rocks were thrown and a few police cars were torched. I wasn't around for the worst of it, but I did witness the aftermath and truckloads of federales armed with machine guns patrolling the streets after the violence broke out.

All this occurred, of course, because citizens believed their election was rigged to deliver a certain outcome.

And that, you see, is very much like what we've been putting up with in Illinois for much longer than 30 years. Think about it.

(Read the rest at Reboot Illinois.)

One Illinois politician who is elected by the whole state, not by individual districts, is the governor. Former Illinois Gov. Dan Walker died April 29 in California. Scott Reeder of the Illinois News Network wrote about Walker's legacy in Illinois:

SPRINGFIELD - Dan Walker, a man who served one term as Illinois' governor and a second as federal inmate, died Wednesday in California, where he was serving a self-imposed exile from the state he once led.

He became governor in 1973 by defeating two Illinois political icons.

First he beat then-Lt. Gov. Paul Simon in the Democratic primary and next Gov. Richard Ogilvie in the general election.

Ogilvie was damaged politically by helping create Illinois' first income tax.

"I supported the income tax. I thought it was a good idea. I made a point of congratulating Ogilvie on it over and over again -- perhaps a bit maliciously," Walker told me in a 2002 interview.

It was vintage Walker, a man who never walked away from a political brawl but lost far more than he won.

(Read the rest at Reboot Illinois.)

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