Precinct Problems Plague Pilsen

By Clayton Guse

PostedTuesday, Nov. 6, 2012

On a chilly, rainy election day, both voters and officials were met with confusion at the Rudy Lozano Public Library polling site. Some voters were directed to other locations to cast their vote, only to be sent back to the library.

“The workers were awful,” said Pilsen local Joel Kern. “They didn’t know where I was supposed to go, they weren’t helpful. They were just all shouting at each other.”

The confusion may have been the result of merging the second and seventh legislative district ballots into one location.

“When I came in, they asked me what district I was, and I was not sure,” said voter Enrique Perez. “I saw a woman who was not in the system, but thought she was. She was making phone calls to try and figure out what the problem was.”

The confusion left one resident cursing as he rode away on his bicycle. “I have to go over to Perez [Elementary] school in the rain now,” he said.

Pilsen, like much of the rest of Chicago, is a predominately democratic neighborhood. Both Kern and Perez voted to re-elect President Obama.

For Perez and many Latinos, immigration policy played a large role in this decision.

“Obama is good for immigration reform,” said Angel Guererro, an electioneer, campaigning down the street from the library. “He really didn’t have enough time to complete his mission. I believe that he deserves another four years to continue all the good that he’s done.”

Guerrero, a former Pilsen resident who now lives in Orland Park, believes that supporting the president is the best thing that he can do for his community.

Sustaining the middle class was another issue on the minds of many voters. 

“Romney is not going to help what used to be the middle class,” said Perez. “People say that Obama is bad for the middle class, but when he took office the economy was a mess. He is rebuilding little by little.”

Pilsen’s residents with disabilities, such as Judy Villarreal, who is wheelchair-bound, did not wish for Obamacare to be repealed,  as Governor Romney has promised.

“I had to vote for Obama because I depend my disability checks,” she said, “and to have Romney come in and take away Medicare, Medicaid, and public assistance would be terrible.”

Villarreal also denounced the referendum on the ballot that would allow for “municipal aggregation” of electricity.

“We are the ones who pay our own electricity bill, not the city,” she said.

Pilsen is the home of Fisk Operating Center—a coal power plant that is notorious for releasing large amounts of pollution into the community’s air. The plant is set to be shut down, but some residents fear that the referendum would lead to the institution of other unsustainable energy sources in the city.

“They could build a nuclear plant,” said Jose Padilla, “so I voted ‘no’ for it.”

Other residents believe that the referendum will reduce electricity costs.

"I think that cost controls are okay for the government to take part in,” said Kern, who was finally able to vote for the measure, after shuffling between two polling places.

Despite the troubles, most Pilsen voters said they were pleased with small lines and short waiting times. Residents, along with the rest of the nation, will await tonight’s results after the polls close at 7 p.m.


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