Tonight, I was literally one minute -- check that, 7:01 p.m. -- late to my polling place, as witnessed by the school janitor who saw me sprint across the school's front lawn after I brought my car to a screeching halt out front.
As I blew through the front door, hurdling the pile of leaves dragged in by the voters who came before me, the young janitor who was sweeping up smiled and said, "You made it. That way, ma'am." He pointed toward the gymnasium.
Moments later, I passed the janitor on my way to the exit. Dejected. He stopped sweeping and looked at me in disbelief. "They turned you away?" "Yep," I replied. "That ain't right, ma'am. That just ain't right. Go back in there and demand to vote."
Bolstered by the janitor's support, I did just that. I returned to the gymnasium and held up my cell phone that now glowed 7:03 p.m. There was still one voter in a booth. The almighty precinct worker mumbled, "Here she comes again," as if to shame me for returning, as if to shame me for wanting to exercise my right. "Seriously? You're going to deny me my right to vote because I was one minute late?" You could tell the guy was proud of himself as he grinned, "That's the law, ma'am."
When I explained that I had heard on the radio moments ago that other polling places in the Chicagoland area would remain open beyond 7:00 p.m. because there were lines out the door, he replied, "It would take an act of Congress for me to allow you to vote." So I left. With a very heavy heart. Feeling like one of Illinois' "have-nots."
Why, you ask, have I begun to feel like a "have-not" in Illinois? Because as a full-time, gainfully employed professional woman for over 30 years...
I HAVE NOT ever wiggled out of my work obligations.
I HAVE NOT shrugged off my tax obligations.
I HAVE NOT benefited from a nickel of public assistance - not for my education, not for my mortgage obligation when the market tanked, not for my small business that occasionally struggles to make payroll with more money on the street than in our corporate bank account.
I HAVE NOT demanded former employers to pay me because I had a pulse.
As a "have-not," I believe I am a stakeholder in this very important Illinois election. As a taxpayer. As a small business owner. As an overtaxed real estate owner. As a professional woman.
What's at stake for me?
As a taxpayer, I have the right to vote for individuals who I believe can actually read a balance sheet, folks who are educated enough to stop writing checks on a sorely overdrawn account.
As a small business owner, I have the right to cast my ballot for folks who won't play economic roulette by handing out raises in the form of an increased minimum wage because our government feels non-skilled workers have a right to a higher income.
As a real estate owner who contributes mightily -- in fact, feels overburdened by real estate tax bills -- I wanted to punch the ballot for competent individuals to take the reigns in a state that has been dogged by corruption and mismanagement, an individual who might demand fiscal transparency to figure out where the leak is.
As a professional woman, I wanted the opportunity to vote for a governor who has a successful track record in the private sector, someone who can translate that success to benefit all Illinois' residents.
Mr. Rauner, had I been given the opportunity to vote, my vote would have been for you.
One of Illinois' HAVE-NOTS