Besides casting a paper ballot for the November presidential election, local diners can vote with bottle caps for Mitt Romney or Barack Obama in South Elgin. The "Fork Over Your Vote" poll is tallying the preferences at independent restaurants across the country, including at Stanley's Ale House.
Most restaurants give their customers jelly beans when they sit down to eat and ask them to vote for their preferred candidate. But Stanley's owner Scott Stanley said he decided to get creative. Patrons can put beer bottle caps into giant beer bottles in the restaurant lobby during their meals -- even if they've voted before -- all adding to a nationwide tally that will be open until Nov. 4.
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Royalty Rewards first started the poll through participating restaurants during the 2004 presidential election. That year and in 2008 the totals accurately reflected the national winner, Stanley said.
While kids can't vote for president yet, they can cast their votes with bottle caps at Stanley's. Three different pee-wee football teams filed through during last weekend's homecoming with the future voters getting excited about the election process, taking Stanley back to his own memories of childhood.
"I remember when I was in middle school -- I think it was Reagan and Carter -- how excited we got to run our own election in school," Stanley said.
Regular customers have been voting repeatedly, canceling out each other's votes and then ordering a new meal to get another bottle cap.
Restaurants in Peru and Oswego, Ill., are also participating.
The national tally is updated weekly at forkoveryourvote.com.