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The only trouble I've had voting in the three-plus years I’ve lived at my current address in Irving Park is never being able to remember which precinct I’m in--my polling place serves two of them. There’s never been much of a line, but when I headed out at about 10:30 this morning, I was toting a book just in case.
There was no line when I arrived--but neither was there a ballot for me. The ballot binder was punctuated by pink pages, each one a challenge to a voter address, but my ballot wasn’t challenged. It was just missing.
I showed the election judge--who looked a bit frazzled already--my voter registration card. She took it and went to check my registration online, but came back reporting that my name wasn’t listed at my address. She told me I could fill out a provisional ballot, but said it might not count.
I expressed outrage. She agreed and offered to call the Board of Elections. After several attempts she got through. They asked for my birthdate, and then correctly recited the last four digits of my social security number. According to the guy who answered the phone, my registration had been changed at an unspecified time to an address I’ve never lived at before, and my polling place was at 6455 N. Sheridan—which turned out to be Fordham Hall, a dorm at Loyola.
I ran home and gathered my social security card and passport, just in case my identity was in question. Luckily I didn’t have any pressing appointments today, and I have a car, so I was able to get up there quickly. During the drive north various scenarios ran through my head--what if I got there to find out that “Heather Kenny” had already cast her vote--my vote?
At Fordham Hall, I decided not to fill the poll workers in on the situation, simply giving them my name. I watched anxiously as one of them slowly turned the pages, but there was my ballot, with a copy of my correct signature on it. No one asked for ID. I cast my ballot without further incident.
Afterward I walked a few steps up the street to check out my “correct” address, which turned out to be a mailroom for Loyola students. According to the manager there is a student at Loyola with my name, but he wasn't allowed to give me more information. Neither could an officer at the university’s campus safety department. The officer pointed out that this is the first year that college students can register to vote at their campus address and suggested that perhaps my registration had been erroneously substituted when Loyola's Heather Kenny registered.
When I got home—two and a half hours after I’d first set out to vote-- I looked at the university’s website, but the online directory isn’t accessible off-campus, and a Google search turned up nothing. I called the attorney general’s election hotline (866-536-3496) to report the incident. The worker there said she hadn’t heard any similar stories but that they'd investigate. She also urged me to contact the Board of Elections as soon as possible to correct my address. I’ll be following up for sure. And in the meantime, if anyone knows a Heather Kenny at Loyola, tell her she can contact me here. I'd love to know how her Election Day went.