My Experience Helping Fair Illinois

(The Anti-gay marriage referendum which has been making the rounds in several states has hit Illinois unfortunately.  The product both of intolerance and cynicism, it has no place on the Illinois Ballot. is spear-heading a volunteer effort to check every signature to see if it's legit.)

I was there on Saturday at the FairIllinois Office and went through 20 petitions.

Everyone was in good humor and helped each other -- which is what you'd expect from progressives.  I saw a number of couples come in both gay and straight.  I got there at about one and after the short training by the affable Matt, I hunkered down to work.

The hours of operation are pretty open since there are a lot of these sheets to go through -- over 50,000 I think.  Our job was to go through the list of people who had signed and make sure that their name and address checked out.  Simple enough.

To tell you the truth, my perspective was to give each person the benefit of the doubt -- even though they had signed (whether they realized it or not) a completely foul piece of paper.  If I couldn't find them under their name, I then looked under the address.  I tried every way I could to make sure that if it were a legitimate signature that I wouldn't raise an objection to it.

Nevertheless, I found an enormous number of questionable errors.  I even found the same person signing the thing twice -- at two different addresses neither of which were listed on the official rolls.

I finished up at around 5:30pm and people were still dropping by.

Judging by the results, I'd say not only was the petition drive mean-spirited but the people carrying it out were utterly sloppy about who they got to sign the things.  Maybe they weren't anticipating people coming in later and actually checking on their work.  Maybe they don't respect the democratic process enough to take the rules seriously.

Whatever.  The bottom line is we all have an opportunity in a limited amount of time to help knock this piece of intolerance off the Illinois Ballot.

Everyone needs to help!  For more information, call 773-477-7173 or email  See also,

Tags: Chicago, Fair Illinois, Gay Marriage, Illinois, volunteer (all tags)



Perhaps you could describe the process

of verifying the signatures.

From the description at the Fair Illinois Web site, I didn't understand why all work was centered at one particular office in Chicago.  This was a statewide petition.  Shouldn't the verification process be at least similarly distributed?

With no knowlege of how this is customarily handled, I should think there would be a massive effort to scan in the paper petitions and then electronically distribute the scans to teams all over the state.   Workers could then examine the signatures and addresses in minute detail, cross reference voter registration lists to validate signatures and rate them on their level of validity, create soundexes for the names/addresses in order to easily detect duplicate signatures.

by pascal1947 2006-05-22 12:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Perhaps you could describe the process

I think the one office was simply an organizational question -- this really is a modest operation.

That said, they may be opening other offices.  They're also working at the County Building in Downtown Chicago.

by patachon 2006-05-22 07:07AM | 0 recs
Re: My Experience Helping Fair Illinois

My DFA (Democracy for America) group will also be helping to check signatures.  We are coordinating with Matt to find a couple of nights that we can go as a group.  I fully agree that every effort should be made to try to validate the signatures -- but I will be thrilled at every invalid signature we find.  And kudos to whomever put up the money to set up that office where we can do the checking.  It seems very likely that we will be able to keep this off the ballot, as they didn't collect that many sigs over the amount needed to get on the ballot.  

by citygirl 2006-05-22 04:28AM | 0 recs
Re: My Experience Helping Fair Illinois

Yup, those signatures won't invalidate themselves!

So people need to contact and see when it's best to help out.

by patachon 2006-05-22 07:04AM | 0 recs


Advertise Blogads