Sometimes, your girlfriend has an 8 a.m. class, and sometimes, you want to drive her because it's supposed to rain.
Sometimes, it's election day and you have to go vote right when the polling place opens.
For me, today was both, but waking up early wasn't an issue because it meant that this absolutely absurd, multiple-year-long election cycle was finally coming to an end. The act of voting symbolizes more than a choice for President of the United States; it's a totally non-partisan space where we can safely, honestly and anonymously cast our personal choice for who should lead our respective communities.
Unfortunately, this morning at Champaign's Holy Cross Church, this was not the case. As I pulled up, I immediately noticed a sign that read in big, clear letters "VOTE PRO-LIFE", followed by a picture what appeared in passing to be an unborn fetus.
According to the Champaign County Clerk's website, Holy Cross is one of a few polling places in Champaign Co. that has voluntarily elected not to have any political signage on their property on election day, making this a clear violation of State Law (10ILCS 5/17-29). Gotta love Election Day hijinks!
After talking to the election judges present, and asking if they knew of the signs outside, which they said they had removed earlier. Yet, somehow, these signs made their way back outside the polling place, and around the entire block. The election judges seemed annoyed by this and immediately went to investigate.
Let me also make clear that this is in no way, shape or form an indictment of the Champaign County Clerk. In fact, I was impressed by their office's ability to quickly take action all based on a few tweets. The election judges did a superb job, and the only person at the polling place who seemed to disagree with removing the signs was Holy Cross, themselves.
A half hour later, around 8 a.m., I called the Church's office to ask about the signs, to which they responded:
"It's not a political sign."
I'm pretty sure it's telling people to vote a certain way, which may be the most exclusively political action I can think of — but hey, that's just me.
All the while, the Champaign Co. Clerk's office seemed disturbed.
On my third trip to the church, I went into their office, where the clerks first told me:
"You'd have to talk to our Pastor. He's not here right now. There isn't really a whole lot to say. We didn't realize a long time ago that we had said we didn't want any political signs."
Awesome. Their story changed. That's always fun. First, it wasn't a political sign, now they all-of-a-sudden don't know the law.
The point here is that Holy Cross Church is no longer fit to be a polling place. Their sheer unwillingness to take away political signage proves that they are either:
A.) truly ignorant of their duties as a polling place,
B.) actively trying to push a political agenda in a place where it is illegal.
Either way, they shouldn't be allowed the privilege of hosting such a monumental event moving forward. And, while we're at it, someone should probably look into their 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, as well.
Oh, and by the way, I wish all of this was surprising, but coming from a church whose mascot is the Crusaders (who were responsible for killing countless Muslims and Jews), I guess I could have seen it coming, so that one's on me. Also, here's a post from the Pastor's Facebook:
So thanks, Holy Cross — as if your message wasn't manipulative and vile enough, it's also plainly illegal, and violates the aspect of our country that is perhaps at it's most fragile point ever right now.
I want to believe this isn't blatant abuse of Holy Cross' privilege to host elections, but their story just doesn't add up, folks. And that's not a partisan take.
h/t to Liz Miernicki, who assisted me in research this morning, all before coffee or anything, and Nicole Mack, who was first to alert us.