The Cook County Board of Elections says 7,800 election judges will be on hand to help voters Tuesday.
Lee Baker, 84, is one of them. He’s a Republican election judge in Cook County who sets up voting booths and takes them down after the polls close. Lee is also on hand to troubleshoot.
He’s worked every election for more than a decade.
“(I work on) repairing machines. Usually when something doesn’t go right, I got to go fix it,” Baker said. “I got one right now I got to see what I can do with it.”
He grew up in Mississippi and remembers a time when African Americans like him could not vote.
“You couldn’t pay the poll tax because you didn’t have the money,” Baker said. “And they’d find ways to not let you get to the polls. And when you got to the polls, something was wrong.”
Baker came to Illinois in the 1950s after his U.S. Army service. He says his first time voting, when he landed in Chicago, was a memorable experience.
“The precinct captain tried to tell me who to vote for. And I said ‘no I’ll vote for who I want to vote for.’ That didn’t go over too well,” Baker said.
Yolanda Perdomo is a reporter at WBEZ. Follower her at @yolandanews.