Deadlocked park board race in North Chicago proves every vote counts

Deadlocked park board race in North Chicago proves every vote counts

Dan Moran
3–4 minutes

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“One man, one vote” is usually an abstract concept, a noble-sounding phrase that sounds like it should be engraved on a courthouse monument or said with dramatic emphasis by Sam Waterston on a “Law & Order” rerun.

On Election Day 2015 in North Chicago, the importance of one single vote was written in bold letters in the Foss Park District Board race, where voters were asked to choose two candidates out of six. After the employees and computers at the Lake County Clerk’s Office collected and compiled 945 ballots, Jimmy Johnson came in first with 212 votes.

Finishing second was Kingston G. Neal with 163 votes. And also Vance D. Wyatt with 163 votes.

It could be argued that a finish like this is given an assist when only fractions of registered voters put in the time and/or effort to cast a ballot, though even a Presidential election comes with the possibility of a tie being decided by one man with one vote to use or not use (see Kevin Costner in “Swing Vote,” though its box-office receipts indicate few people did).

North Chicago wasn’t the only community with both relatively low voter turnout and dramatically close contests.

Village Board races in Deerfield and Hainesville were decided by seven and six votes, respectively. The Big Hollow School District in Ingleside saw its board race decided by three votes. The tiny Cary Area Public Library District saw a one-vote margin in its trustee race.

Of course, it must be noted that all of these totals are not only still officially unofficial but could be changed as provisional and mail-in ballots filter in over the next few days.

In the Foss Park District, for example, if Neal or Wyatt has votes coming in from Snowbirds in Florida that were postmarked in time, that would break the tie on its own.

If not? It is literally a coin flip.

However all of these razor-thin margins end up once all the franchises are exercised, this week’s balloting has already demonstrated to office-seekers that the importance of getting your people out to the polls — either on Election Day or before — has never been more important. It has also reminded voters that your vote not only matters but can prove to be the difference, so sitting on the bench can come at a cost.

Countywide, only 11.25 percent of registered voters made it to the polls.

What can we do to reverse the downward trend in voter participation? Maybe the powers that be can switch election days to Saturdays, so more working people have the time to vote. Maybe political operatives can stop alienating the masses — especially younger voters — with their poison-the-waters campaign tactics.

Until the trend reverses, get the hi-def cameras ready, because there will be more and more photo finishes.

Twitter @NewsSunDanMoran