Over in the 42nd Ward, which includes the Gold Coast and parts of the Loop, alderman Burton Natarus has come up with a novel service for voters: door-to-door absentee balloting.

On January 20 he sent voters in his ward an application for absentee ballots along with a letter offering them three options: “Drop it off with your doorman, mail it to the Board of Elections, or call Robert at (312) 645-0215 and he will arrange for a pickup.”

I called Robert, who turns out to be Robert Clarke, an employee of the Haymarket Group, the politicial consulting firm that’s running Natarus’s campaign. “We’re making it easy for for people to vote absentee,” he explained. “If they want us to drop off the application we’ll do so. If they want to mail it to the Board of Elections they can do so.”

Frankly, given Chicago’s notorious history of election-related shenanigans, I’d recommend the do-it-yourself route. Could registered Republicans trust that their applications would ever see the light of day? Second there’s the matter of bewildered doormen. “I talked to mine,” says Caroline Gibbons, a 42nd Ward resident. “It was the first he heard that he was an agent of the Board of Elections.”

Clarke says doormen with questions should call him.”There’s no trick,” he says. “We’re not messing around. We just want to help.”