Enjoy my latest webcast about exciting stuff on Columbia’s campus.
Curlie Mae Johnson, 63 has witnessed a lot of changes in her polling place at Brian Piccolo Specialty School in Humboldt Park since she started as a poll worker in 1990.
“This area used to be all-black, up till about 10 years ago when Hispanics started moving in,” she said.
But now, statistics from Chicago Public Schools show Piccolo made up of only 61 percent African-American students and 38 percent Hispanic students in a neighborhood where the population dropped by nearly 10,000 people over the past decade, according to U.S. Census data.
Johnson arrived at Piccolo, at the corner of Keeler and Thompson in the city’s 37th Ward, at 4 a.m. just to make sure everything is working properly for the 6 a.m. opening. She bought with her cookies she baked herself.
For voter Phillip Radcliff, 58, this election is the most crucial in deciding America’s future and well-being.
“We need to put the right people into office,” Radcliff said. “The people before us fought and died so we could have the right to vote.”
Voters at Johnson’s precinct in the 10th state congressional district were casting ballots for not just the president but State Representative Derrick Smith, recently indicted for bribery.
Ticket broker Rice Gibson, 60 said he supports Lance Tyson to replace Smith, though he said he was unsure if other voters would agree with him due to people’s lack of knowledge in choosing a candidate.
“People simply don’t know what’s going on,” Gibson said. “They don’t know who Derrick [Smith] is, but I do. He’s a crook.”
Thirty-seventh ward Alderman Emma Mitts made a brief stop by the polling place and said redistricting has confused many voters.
“A lot of people are voting for the first time and they aren’t checking beforehand to see if they are in the right polling place,” Mitts said.
However, Mitts said that the turnout so far has been great and encouraged people to keep coming out to vote.
“We’re looking for a victory for our President [Obama] and we support him wholeheartedly,” Mitts said.
Also published on Chicago Talks: http://www.chicagotalks.org/2012/11/07/humboldt-park-voters-cast-their-ballots/
The Columbia Chronicle, Nancy Day’s Covering Politics Class and WCRX will be covering the 2012 Presidential Election, LIVE! WCRX’s coverage starts at 7pm CST and goes to midnight. Reporters from the Chronicle and the Covering Politics class will be disbursed all over the city covering local legislative and congressional district races.
I will be live at Lance Tyson’s (10th Legislative district candidate) campaign party, 551 N. Ogden beginning at 6pm, reporting for ChicagoTalks, AustinTalks and The Chronicle. Follow me on Twitter (@CJefferson91), The Chronicle (@CCChronicle), and WCRX (@WCRXFM).
It was recently announced the President Obama will hold his Election Night party at McCormick Place (reminds me of the NATO summit back in May). Anyways, my Covering Politics class, led by Columbia College journalism department chair, Nancy Day will be teaming up with The Columbia Chronicle, ChicagoTalks, WCRX 88.1 FM (Columbia’s radio station) and the Television Department to bring you the best election coverage in the City of Chicago. We will go live at 7PM on Election Night.
Stay tuned to my blog for all the latest information. Questions: leave a comment or click on the “About Me” tab and send me an email.
Here’s a link to my story about the YNPN’s viewing party for the presidential town hall debate on Tuesday. Enjoy!
Below is the story I did for The Columbia Chronicle. You will also find a link to the story on our website.
A group of community organizations in the Englewood neighborhood are working together to encourage more residents to register to vote in the 2012 election with hopes of persuading President Barack Obama to visit the area.
The Englewood Votes initiative, a nonpartisan campaign, aims to register 5,000 new voters and increase turnout for future elections.
Sonya Harper, an organizer of Englewood Votes, said she believes a visit from the president would motivate residents to get join in the electoral process.
“His presence alone would give the people here so much hope,” Harper said. “He wouldn’t even have to say a word.”
Englewood and other South Side neighborhoods have a history of low election turnout. According to the Chicago Board of Elections, Englewood currently has 32,344 registered voters, yet only 10,126 ballots were cast in the area during the March 2012 primary election.
Raymond Lopez, the Democratic committeeman for the 15th Ward, suggested that younger voters are responsible for the neighborhood’s low turnout.
“Older residents are the ones you see the most at the polls,” Lopez said. “They remember the struggle it took to get the right to vote. They don’t take voting for granted.”
Stephanie Montgomery, a longtime Englewood resident, said she and others fought hard for the right to vote, but some people feel their votes don’t matter because nothing ever seems to get done in local government.
“The aldermen are not doing what they are supposed to be doing,” Montgomery said. “It takes forever for our voices to be heard, and we’re tired of it.”
Low voter turnout in Englewood could also be due to the community’s ex-offender population, according to Lopez, a lifelong South Side resident. Thirty percent of neighborhood residents are ex-offenders, according to the Chicago Police Department.
Many of the communities ex-offenders do not know they have the right to vote, Lopez said. He added that Illinois is among more than a dozen states to restore voting rights to offenders after they are released from prison.
Harper said the fact that the neighborhood is composed of six different wards “creates chaos” when politicians are left to decide what happens locally.
Lopez said it is important that Englewood residents vote to show elected officials they are aware of what’s going on in local politics.
“Other neighborhoods get treated well because they vote well,” Lopez said. “We have to stay proactive because residents have the power to get politicians attention when you vote.”
Andrew Willins, a 25-year-old Englewood resident, said many residents are disconnected from the political world and not informed enough to vote intelligently.
“Most people around here vote because [Obama] is black, but he’s so much more than that,” Willins said. “People don’t care. They worry about themselves and not the future, for their children or families.”
Harper said it is up to the residents to get involved and stay up-to-date on neighborhood issues.
“We’re going to have to get really creative and get those who are not involved in politics to vote,” Harper said. “We’re not looking for anyone to come in and clean Englewood up. It’s up to the people [who] live here to do that.”
It’s been a while since I’ve posted on the blog. I had a busy summer. I have a few updates to share: I’m officially starting my internship with 103.5 KISS FM on September 10th. And I now work for The Columbia Chronicle, the official student newspaper of Columbia College Chicago. I’m working on a piece about the Englewood Votes program, so when it’s all finished, I post it here.