March to the Polls in
VOTING is essential to the community. Votes give voice; votes set agendas and change political landscapes. Here some important dates and information regarding early voting. NOTE: Some early voting information is forthcoming, so check closer to Election Day for updates.
Every county’s site is different. Once at your county website, be prepared to search for information on early voting, mail-ballot applications, election judges and poll locations.
IMPORTANT DATES: In Illinois, absentee voting is now a relic; we vote by mail or in person. However, with early voting available, voters have the ability to schedule their trip to the polls. Here are some important dates for voting in the 2018 elections:
August 8: First day to apply for mail-in ballot
October 9: Last day for registration by deputy registrars
October 21: Last day for registration with the State site
November 5: Last day for early voting
November 6: General Election
EARLY VOTING INFO by LOCATION:
Illinois University Counties (Main Campus, selected):
- EIU - Coles
- ISU - McLean
- NIU - DeKalb
- SIU - Jackson
- UIUC - Champaign
- WIU - McDonough
Check the Illinois State Board of Elections site for updated early voting and grace period voting information.
FIRST, make sure you are registered. Moving is a primary reason why people have issues with their registration. Check here is see if you are registered and that the information is correct:
THEN come here to register. The form can be filled out online or downloaded for in-person registering campaigns. The form is available in multiple languages too
Reminders from the League of Women Voters of Illinois:
- You must be a United States Citizen.
- You must be 17 years old on or before the date of the Primary Election AND turn 18 on or before the date of the General Election (11/6/2018).
- You must live in your election precinct at least 30 days prior to Election Day.
- Not be convicted and in prison (Voting rights restored automatically upon release from prison).
- Not claim the right to vote anywhere else.
Illinois Online Voter Application: You will need a valid Illinois driver’s license or State ID and the last four digits of your social security number.
Illinois Mail-in Form: You need the last 4 digits of your social security number or Driver’s license or State ID number.
Voting Laws & Rights
One of the best set of reference materials is found at this site, also includes publications, forms, candidate guides, resources for candidates, and maps.
Campus Vote Project is part of the Fair Elections Legal Network and provides information for students attending universities or colleges away from their home state. Living out of state can prove to be rather challenging for a student; this site provides links and some FAQs on the issues specific to college students.
The National Conference of State Legislators compiles state legislation related to elections. An archive is available as well. One can search based on a few simple terms to locate relevant legislation
The LOC offers extensive listings of resources, links and reference materials. Another place for the political wonk and wonkette to get a head full of information. The site offers guides, links to archives of previous election cycles, research and educational resources for kids.
For the hardcore voter rights advocate, this site contains information on voting law and Constitutional amendments, Federal Campaign Finance law, Voter Accessibility laws, voter fraud, voter intimidation and other election crimes.
A site for the policy geek as well as the information seeker. Contains a policy location widget, click on the interactive U.S. map and find the relevant policy. Also includes ongoing court decisions related to voting, a glossary, featured issues related to voting, information on the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and a policy section that links to many different resources.
State laws vary with respect to those convicted of a felony. Therefore it is very important that people know their rights. Nonprofit Vote offers a summary of state laws and the variations in those laws.
In addition to providing information on candidates, Ballotpedia offers several ways to review the judiciary and the courts. The link above takes viewers to a general page for the state; the page provides multiple links to the state courts, elections, salaries and the federal courts in Illinois.
Listing of Illinois courts by county:
State-specific interactive map. Just click on the appropriate state:
The ISBA offers their evaluations to assist Illinois voters with judicial candidate decisions. The lawyers who practice in the judges’ courts and with the candidates, provide the assessments. The site offers details on how the ISBA creates their reports as well. Evaluations are divided into two PDFs; one for Cook County and another for other counties.
Created by the Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice, this straightforward site is filled with information on judges and candidates for the Cook County judicial system. This system includes judges that sit on the Illinois Supreme Court, Illinois Appellate Court and trial courts. The judiciary plays a vital role in that they should make impartial decisions free of political or economic influences. Votes for these positions are just as necessary as those votes for executive and legislative roles.
One way to observe the governance directly is via C-SPAN. This schedule helps one to focus on the issues of interest and avoid watching legislators wander about the floor. Check your TV listings for channel locations.
This link takes users directly to the directory of representatives. Also take a look at the “How the House Works” section as well as the “Committees” and “Legislative Activity” sections. Each committee tends to display their hearings schedules, issues and subcommittees. “Legislative Activity” provides the more political geek content: Daily Digest (records the ongoing activity for the House), proceedings (Votes, rulings), live streams and calendars. Plenty of links to explore the deeper functioning of the House.
This link takes a user to a page that contains the listing of Senators and lot more information. The Senate, containing fewer members, packs a lot more on their site such as the art found in government buildings, oral histories, Senate history as well as the current functions. Be sure to take a look at the extensive “Reference” pages as well as the “Legislation & Records” pages.
The Chicago Tribune’s topical collection for the Illinois General Assembly, a cumulative collection of news stories pertaining to the Assembly’s governance. Includes news stories, videos, photos all filtered by time frame.
Governors maintain rather active websites and usually include updates on current issues, initiatives, educational resources as well as links to their specific governmental units. Included here are the Lake Michigan states. Be aware that some URLs may contained the name of a governor and the URL may change with elections.
URLs for government sites have become far more logical in recent years, just remember that with elections, past sessions are archived.
For the Kids
The GPO (formerly Government Printing Office, now Government Publishing Office), presents age appropriate content that covers institutions, traditions and process.
Humorous videos that cover the mostly federal operations of government. Includes some discussions of parties, elections and finances presented with a touch of the funny. No age is specified, but the younger set seems to get quite a bit out of them as well as the more adult crowd.
We need to get more people involved in the voting process and the issues. Here are some links to consider in your pathway to becoming a 1-person team armed and ready for action.
There are so many different sites, try a few out and see what works for you. Commit to remaining involved at whatever level you can contribute. All participation helps, inspires and demonstrates that we are indeed here and engaged.
Technically related to voting, but Ballot Ready addresses those referendums as well as the candidates on your ballot. The decision on voting for or against a referendum is just as important as voting for drain commissioner and President. It all matters!
But referendums are often written in secret code and a “yes” vote may end up doing something you would rather not support. Also be aware that voting for judgeships and other lower level positions is yet another critical and yet often overlooked opportunity to shape your community. So know the issue, understand the referendum language and vet the candidate.
Countable offers an extensive list of issues, there over 50 tiles that explore a topic in-depth. With an account you can favorite an issue and return for updates and ongoing list of information. Each of the tiles contains narratives on the issue. Countable presents comments for and against a certain issue; these comments are not necessarily from pundits or experts but other Countable users.
GovTrack is a very useful site in that you can actually follow committees in action as well as members of the Senate or House. What is especially helpful is the “issue” drop-down menu, to the upper right of the home page (somewhat obscured). This menu allows users to focus on issues of concern and see an extensive list of relevant bills and other subcategories. Once in the issue you can search on previous sessions, cosponsors, combined topics and status of bill. Not just for legislative history fans, with an account users can create their own active library of information. Oh, and you can track your representatives as well. Know how they voted, hold them accountable too.
LWVIL focuses on these four areas: Representative Government, International Relations, Natural Resources, and Social Policy. They concentrate on these issues within the context of Illinois’ legislative activity.
Passed to Sunlight Foundation alumni, OpenStates runs on volunteer power primarily and is an independent effort. As an open source project, their data is available to anyone. Chicago Trib, NPR’s StateImpact and a couple of other media sources utilize the data OpenState collects.
Think of OpenState as the state version of GovTrack, also on feaured on this WMC Resource page. There are tutorials as well, always a bonus. Viewers can look search for any state, which comes in handy if you are an advocate for a specific issue.
A non-partisan site that focuses on educating voters on candidates. Provides bios, votes, positions on issues, speeches, funding and votes (incumbents). The Board requires that for anyone that joins, a political opposite must also join. Powered by a volunteer corps numbering in the thousands, the site started in the early 1990’s and continues bring candidate and ballot information to the voters.
One of the more direct ways to participate in Illinois’ legislative process is by submitting witness slips commenting on legislation or committee efforts. This guide is a step-by-step on how to get registered and use your Illinois government account. We often see calls for witness slips on the Women’s March site, and this guide gives you the “how to.” NOTE: The link directly takes viewers to the PDF guide.
Register here to be able to submit witness slips.
Illinois Witness Slips
An advocacy tool that records your efforts and offers many issues to champion. Enter your zip code and 5 Calls brings up with issues. Select an issue and your relevant Senators and Representatives information appears. 5 Calls provides a script and supplies apps for iOS and Android. The app links on located on the home page. Makes those coffee breaks effective micro-campaigns.
The 65 offers a Weekly Call to Action, sometimes that runs for more than one week. Straight-forward advocacy in simple terms. Allows one to take action without getting overwhelmed with multiple actions.
A simple widget to locate your Congress persons. Enter an address for accurate information, retrieve your Representative and two Senators information.
Another take action site that the Democratic National Committee maintains. Several issues posted highlight current issues. Another uncluttered site that provides an opportunity to advocate.
A Women’s Marcher from Chicago started Persist List after last year’s historic march. The site extensively covers events for candidates, issues and activism all over the Chicagoland area.
Join over 10,000 volunteers who sent more than half a million postcards to voters since March 2017. Great project for a family, small groups, friends, or those who prefer to set their own activity hours. Templates, suggested messages, tracking, and more available at the site.
A grassroots organization concentrating on taking back the House of Representatives in 2018. The website takes a viewer’s district information and identifies whether or not the location is a swing district. If not, then the site identifies the nearest swing district. Volunteers are needed to register people to vote, canvas for district candidates and other GOTV (get out the vote) activities.
This site offers TAKE ACTION cards that focus on issues related to women such as sexual harassment, equal pay and health concerns plus many others. One clicks on a “card” and receives pertinent information and action steps.