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Our View

Our View: Democracy worth the wait

In an age of smartphones, instant gratification is the rule, not the exception.

Want to communicate with someone right away?

Want to order a product right now?

Want to find information right this very minute?

There’s an app for that.

Too often, our society attempts to apply the instant-gratification template to elections.

Pre-election polls predict winners.

Election Day exit polls do the same.

Often, large news organizations project winners moments after polling places close.

By Election Night, people want to know who won and move on with their lives.

Democracy, however, doesn’t work that way.

Efforts to make voting more inclusive and convenient led to the expansion of absentee voting rights in Illinois.

No longer do people have to be in the hospital or nursing home or out of state or otherwise unable to go to their home precinct to vote on Election Day.

Anyone can vote by absentee ballot, which must be postmarked the day before Election Day.

But it takes time for those ballots to reach election authorities. The Postal Service is given two weeks to deliver them, which seems adequate.

Same-day voter registration is an additional way to be inclusive and convenient. Ballots cast in that manner are considered provisional, and election officials are given time to verify the same-day registrations before counting those votes.

So by Nov. 18, the last absentee ballots arrived, and the last provisional ballots were verified, and Illinois finally had a decision in the state treasurer’s election.

The winner is not state Rep. Tom Cross, a Republican from Oswego, who led the close contest on Election Night by only about 19,500 votes.

The winner is state Sen. Mike Frerichs, a Democrat from Champaign, who by Nov. 18 ended up with about 9,600 more votes than Cross.

Cross conceded the contest to Frerichs on Nov. 19 in what Frerichs called a “good” and “gracious” telephone call.

Thus, Frerichs will become the new state treasurer in January; he will replace outgoing Republican Treasurer Dan Rutherford.

Instant gratification was nowhere to be found in the long, post-election vote-tabulating process in the treasurer’s race.

But every person out of the more than 3.5 million who cast a ballot was heard, as they should have been. And that was worth the wait.

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