Greising: Gov. Pritzker Steps up in Face of Coronavirus Crisis. Similarly Bold Leadership Would Help Solve Illinois’ Other Problems.

Pritzker’s stand on elections was an act of leadership. Some disagreed, others agreed. And that’s when leaders step up and make a judgment call.

Gov. Pritzker (Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

BGA President David Greising writes every other week for the Chicago Tribune Opinion section.

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.

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