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Voting HILARITY! - The Life and Thoughts of Zach — LiveJournal

Apr. 6th, 2005

12:15 am - Voting HILARITY!

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This is the most hilarious thing I've seen in politics.

We all learned (if we were paying attention, because it was mentioned ONCE in passing in a special unit on local government in 6th grade that we were sleeping during) that Illinois is divided into counties and that counties are divided into townships. Anyone who votes or deals with city council is vaguely aware of townships because there's this weird overlap between townships and cities. Cities have most of the power, counties have most of the power outside of the cities, but the township has some weird powers. Your voting precinct is based on your township. Back home the library and fire departments were funded by the townships. Most townships are boxy subdivisions of the county. We learned in that 6th grade class that this is how land was initially divided up, the state was made of counties and counties were made of townships and townships were further divided into smaller units until you got to your lot and it was all very boxy and grid like.

As it turns out Illinois has TWO kinds of townships. There's the "civil" townships and the "congressional" townships. They have SLIGHTLY different borders and different laws refer to one or the other.

This actually matters right now because the law for the silliest government office ever: Champaign-Ford County Regional Board of School Trustees. The law apparently dictates that only one person from each congressional township is allowed to be on this board. But one of the people running for this office (the top vote getter) is from the Tolono township and someone from that township is already on the board. This is such an unbelievable mess and apparently the state board of elections have to be the ones to sort it out. This brings up all kinds of questions about whether the Tolono candidate should have even been allowed on the ballot, whose job it is to verify whether people should be allowed to be on the ballot, whose job it is to verify whether people who win elections should be allowed to be seated, etc. This whole thing would even be more complicated if two people from the same township ran at the same time! Wow. I mean how are voters supposed to know that certain candidates are ineligible and votes for them are wasted when the system is so byzantine?

It'll be fun to watch this thing play out.


[User Picture]
Date:April 6th, 2005 01:10 pm (UTC)
Wow. Looks like Sadorus has done some gerrymandering in the past.

Oh, and in Oregon we sleep thru that unit in 4th grade. Why take the risk that future voters will actually understand the process by age-appropriate teaching?
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[User Picture]
Date:April 6th, 2005 02:53 pm (UTC)
Haha, the fire department for St. Joseph which is located smack dab in the middle of the town is actually called the Stanton Fire Department. Kind of asinine.
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[User Picture]
Date:April 6th, 2005 10:59 pm (UTC)
The creation of survey (or Congressional townships) is the result of the Northwest Ordinance, one of the coolest political creations in US history, in my opinion. The Ordinance divided up the territory that comprises the Great Lakes states, with the intention of defining a structure for the creation of new states based on progressive ideas. Each township included allocations for public facilities, notably schools. Additionally, the Ordinance forbade slavery and guaranteed key civil rights well before the Constitution and when most states still had slavery.

Civil townships are government organizations that tended to follow survey townships, with the main purpose of providing key services in unincorporated areas that lack municipal structures. Are the occasional discrepancies between civil and survey townships at issue here?

This situation does seem silly and preventable, though the fundamental law itself was common to prevent a concentration of power in densely-populated areas. Someone actually challenged the validity of the Bush/Cheney ticket under the similar clause in the Constitution that prevents the President and Vice-President from being from the same state (Cheney moved to Wyoming to resolve the issue).
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