Voter turnout for Tuesday’s mayoral and aldermanic elections neared record lows, which election worker Connie Wade was due to the public’s failure to follow the issues confronting the city.
“I don’t think people have full knowledge of how important it is to vote in their ward,” said Wade. “People need to be educated.”
At a polling station in the 46th Ward, fewer than 60 people had cast votes in the five hours since polls opened at 6 a.m.
Wade, a longtime resident of the 46th ward, said she believes people do not vote because they have no idea what the actual issues are and how they will affect them personally — which she said is their fault.
“It’s people’s responsibility to educate themselves,” Wade said.
“I mean the information is out there; people just do not seem that interested.”
Wade said she knows many people do not have the time to vote or the time to follow local politics closely, but the lack of interest is worrying.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel was widely considered the favorite to win the election, though he will now have to endure a six week runoff election against challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia before the outcome will be known.
Nevertheless, Wade is confident Emanuel will secure the victory.
“Oh, Rahm will win,” Wade said. “If only because of Obama’s support. He was smart for securing that.”
Wade said she is OK with Emanuel getting another four years as mayor even though she, as a mother of two, was very disappointed in his decision to close 50 public schools in 2013.
“Rahm had my support 100 percent, until he closed the schools down,” Wade said. “I have friends who have school-age children, and they have to go to school out of the area. It is very dangerous.”
Wade referred to Emanuel as a typical Chicago politician and she said money has overruled many of his better intentions, but she still believes he cares for the people of Chicago.
Phil Monfils of the 46th Ward voted for Emanuel, but only because he couldn’t see any other viable choices.
“I kind of wished I could vote for somebody else, but I watched a debate and the other candidates did not seem as smart as Rahm,” Monfils said.
Monfils attributed the amount of news coverage of Emanuel and President Barack Obama’s endorsement as other factors that helped Emanuel take the most votes on election day.
Other voters, like 46th Ward resident Mary Pat Barbarie, said the mayoral race would have looked dramatically different had Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis been able to run. Lewis, who had already formed an exploratory and had begun fundraising, was forced to drop from the race after being diagnosed with brain cancer.
“[Emanuel] is so lucky Karen Lewis got sick,” Barbarie said.
“She would have eaten his lunch in this election.”