October 18, 2006

CHICAGO (Oct. 18)–Don’t wait until the November 7 General Election to vote. Do it now, using the Early Voting program, to make sure your vote counts no matter where your employer sends you on Election Day.

That’s the message from the UTU Illinois Legislative Board to all members who work as members of railroad crews.

“Railroad crew work by nature is erratic and unpredictable,” said Illinois Legislative Director Joseph C. Szabo. “Even if you work a regular 5-day-a-week yard job or commuter assignment, a derailment, a grade-crossing accident or an on-the-job injury could spoil your plans to stop off and vote on the way home. Don’t let your vote go to waste. You have the right to vote early. Do it now.”

Szabo said Early Voting opened October 16 and will run through November 2. In most jurisdictions, Early Voting can be done at the county clerk’s office in the County Building. In larger cities, City Halls offer the service as well. Simply call your county clerk’s office or city board of elections to learn the location. Or visit www.elections.il.gov.

Voters casting an early ballot must display valid identification such as a current driver’s license, a state-issued ID card or another government-issued ID with a photograph. The law prohibits a person who voted during the early voting period from voting at the polls on Election Day. The votes cast during the early voting period will remaine sealed and not be counted until after the polls close on Election Day.

Voters may also choose to vote via an absentee ballot. An application for an absentee ballot may be obtained, by mail or in person, by contacting your county clerk.

“This may not be a presidential election, but for members of railroad crews the results of the 2006 General Election will be critical,” Szabo said. “Who serves as governor, and who sits in the General Assembly, will determine whether our members retain the gains we won in the last four years—the right to safe, state-inspected crew vans driven by trained employees, the right to privacy when we consult a physician for treatment of a workplace injury, and the right to perform yard and switching work on a safe, level, unobstructed walkway.

“The railroads have shown they will take away those rights if they can,” Szabo said. “They have shown they are ready to take away jobs if they can.

”Our best insurance is to have a strong majority of UTU-endorsed candidates serving in state government. Don’t waste your vote. Use Early Voting and elect the right candidates now.”