Granted, there was some political posturing involved, but it’s worth noting Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s explanation for why he kept the Illinois polls open on Election Day.
Ohio’s governor had closed his state’s polls, defying a court order. The Chicago Board of Elections and others had urged the Illinois governor to do likewise, Pritzker said.
But the state constitution doesn’t give Pritzker that power, he said, and he wasn’t about to use the COVID-19 crisis as a pretext.
“There are people out there who want to say, ‘Oh, it’s a crisis. Bend the rules. Overstep your authority,’” Pritzker said at a news conference Tuesday. “Let me tell you this: It is exactly in times like this where the constitutional boundaries of our democracy should be respected above all else.”
The rule of law is worth clinging to these days. It’s a toehold of certainty amid the yawning calamity of the coronavirus. With so much uncertainty out there — about the pandemic, the economy, the looming elections — it’s good to have Pritzker, and other leaders, remind us of this bedrock of American civilization.
David Greising is the president and chief executive of the Better Government Association, joining the BGA in 2018. For nearly a century, the BGA has fought for honest and effective government through investigative journalism and policy advocacy.
Greising’s career started at the City News Bureau of Chicago, with stops at the Chicago Sun-Times, Business Week magazine, the Chicago Tribune and Reuters. He was a co-founder of the Chicago News Cooperative and worked briefly as a consultant to World Business Chicago. Today, Greising writes on government issues in regular columns for the Tribune and Crain’s Chicago Business.
Under Greising’s leadership, the BGA has played a key role in uncovering public corruption amidst the wide-ranging federal probe, starting with an in-depth report about Ald. Ed Burke’s conflicts of interest before the federal charges against Burke. The BGA also has exposed waste and fraud at O’Hare and the proliferation of corruption and poverty into Dolton, Lyons and other Chicago suburbs. The BGA’s policy team has led calls for ethics reform in Chicago’s City Council and in state government.