October 29, 2002

CHICAGO (Oct. 29)–Are you going to be working on Election Day? Or are you working the extra board and unable to predict when you’ll be called?

Either way, you can protect your right to vote by voting now on an absentee ballot. If you are subject to irregular working hours–and what railroad employee isn’t?–then you qualify as an absentee voter and have the right to cast your ballot before the election.

What does it take? Nothing more than a trip to your local county building–and in some cases, your city or village hall. All you have to do is show that you’re a registered voter and make a brief oral explanation as to why you will not be available on Election Day–and you can cast your ballot on the spot.

“The best thing to do is call your county clerk’s office and ask what the hours for absentee voting are,” said Illinois Legislative Director Joseph C. Szabo. “Most county offices are open during normal business hours, and many are staying open at least part of the day on Saturday to permit registered voters who will be traveling on Election Day to exercise their right to vote prior to the election.

“Once you have ascertained the hours of business, all you have to do is walk in and present your voter-registration card,” Szabo said. “It’s simple and takes no more time than voting on Election Day–probably less, since you won’t have to wait in line.”

Szabo also reminded UTU members to check the “Endorsements” link on the left column of the Web page to identify candidates endorsed by the Union.

“Several UTU-endorsed candidates are involved in very close races in which a tiny number of votes could determine the outcome,” he said. “The union-endorsed candidate for Attorney-General, Lisa Madigan, is in a neck-and-neck race and needs our support. We ask that every member take the time to vote so that this candidate can win every possible vote.”

Szabo said that although polls continue to show Union-endorsed candidate Rod Blagojevich holding a substantial lead in the race for governor, the gap between him and his GOP opponent, Jim Ryan, is narrowing.

“The governor’s race cannot be taken for granted,” Szabo said. “Rod needs every vote he can get, and his strong pro-union voting record in Congress shows he deserves the votes of UTU members.”

Szabo said the same goes for U.S. Sen. Richard J. Durbin, who leads his challenger in the polls.

“Dick Durbin has been a strong friend of labor and a particular friend of railroad labor,” Szabo said. “Make sure you get to the polls on Election Day to give him our full support, and if you have the slightest doubt about where you will be on November 5, call your county government offices now and arrange to fill out an absentee ballot at once.”