2020 Election

Chase Cavanaugh

DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith announced Thursday that he’s not seeking re-election next year. 

The soon-to-be 77-year-old said age is one factor.

“Given my age, given the fact that we’re in a position where we’re going to continue to make great progress, and given the fact that I know my wife is certainly supportive of this decision that we’ve made, now is the right time,” Smith said. 

He also says he feels confident in the city’s economic position. Smith said the arrival of Facebook and Ferrara will help with future tax revenue.

Around half the votes cast in the 2020 election are expected to be mail-in ballots.

Concerns about the coronavirus pandemic are driving more people to vote early, absentee, or via the postal service. Professor Nate Persily with the Stanford Law School said this level will vary by state, since some have more experience with this system.

“We have never had to transform the American electoral infrastructure in such a significant way in such a short period of time," he said. 

DeKalb County Clerk and Recorder

The DeKalb County Clerk and Recorder recently fielded questions about the general election at a virtual town hall. 

Dozens of people called in to the online event, which was jointly hosted by the League of Women Voters of DeKalb County and Northern Illinois University’s All In Democracy Challenge. Moderators directed audience questions to DeKalb County Clerk and Recorder Doug Johnson.

Rockford Board of Elections

The Rockford Board of Elections is setting up a secure drop box for mail-in ballots. 

The box will be installed near the corner of 6th Street and 2nd Avenue and available for people to drop off mail-in ballots starting October 1st. Board Executive Director Stacey Bixby said it’s being done in response to the pandemic. She said the Board has received more than 13,000 vote-by-mail applications.

Sarah Jesmer

Some Illinois counties plan to install mail-in drop boxes before the election. Others are still weighing their options. 

DeKalb County Clerk and Recorder Doug Johnson said he contacted city and village clerks about installing the boxes, but he said only Sandwich’s official seemed in favor of the idea.

“None of them seemed to think they had the resources or capability," he said. "We weren’t really requiring or looking at them to do anything other than install a box in their office at the village hall or city hall.”


U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says Illinois voters should request and submit their mail-in ballots earlier than the state requires.

This comes after he met with the U.S. Postal Service’s 2020 election mail director, Justin Glass. Durbin said Glass gave recommended dates that came sooner than the deadlines in place under state law.

City of Oregon, Illinois

The Ogle County Courthouse in Oregon will have a secure ballot box nearby for residents voting by mail.

County Clerk and Recorder Laura Cook explained.

“The Ogle County voter can come and drop it off instead of going through the Postal Service, " she said, "and they don’t have to come into the courthouse. Because there are a lot of older voters out there that have health concerns.” 

Ballots placed in the drop box will be collected twice daily by election staff. Ballots sent through the mail must be postmarked no later than election day to be accepted.

The Rockford Board of Election Commissioners announced that almost 46,000 vote-by-mail applications are being sent to residents this week.

Executive Director Stacey Bixby said the selection process was based on previous electoral participation.

“Those include anyone that voted in the general of 2018, the consolidated of 2019, and the primary of 2020,” she said.  


An Illinois coalition that advocates changing the state from a flat to a progressive income tax is highlighting public support for an amendment on the November ballot that would do just that.

July 15th is the deadline for filing this year’s income taxes. The Vote Yes for Fair Tax group is using this week to remind people of the upcoming Fair Tax amendment.  This includes voters from Rockford, DeKalb, Peoria, Springfield, Chicago and Metro East.

The race for Illinois' 16th Congressional District pits a multi-term incumbent against a political newcomer in this November’s election.

The District stretches across 12 northern Illinois counties and has been represented by Republican Adam Kinzinger since 2012. He’s running as an incumbent this November but faces a challenge from Dani Brzozowski.

Despite fear and uncertainty amid a global pandemic, hundreds of thousands of Illinois voters turned out for Tuesday’s primary election. Overall, however, turnout was down significantly compared to the last presidential primary in 2016.

Local election authorities are reminding people that voting by mail is an option as fears about the coronavirus, the flu, and other illnesses dominate the headlines in the lead-up to March 17's primary.

Chase Cavanaugh

As the Illinois primary election draws closer, college students are preparing to cast their votes. Some for the first time. As part of our series, "You're the Boss," we asked several NIU voters at campus voter registration events about their most important issues in the election, and what questions they would ask candidates and current officeholders directly if they had the chance.  Here's what they had to say:

Salvador Meza, electrical and computer engineering major, Chicago

With less than a month until Illinois’ primary election, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is leading in a new poll of Illinois voters. But the field is still quite divided.

Peter Medlin

On a new Teachers' Lounge: Trudy DesLauriers. She's a reading specialist at Morris Elementary School who has taught for over 30 years. She also has two golden retriever therapy dogs, Martha and Thelma Lou, who come in to help struggling readers. Once a month, a group of other therapy dogs from greyhounds to goldendoodles join them for their "Sit! Stay! Read!" event.

Trudy talked to host Peter Medlin about how her therapy dog program and how Martha and Thelma Lou sometimes get to offer emotional support for students on top of the reading help.

Chase Cavanaugh

Kishwaukee College in Malta has many students who have or will reach voting age.  But education instructor Cynthia de Seife said some of these students had misconceptions.

“A while back, I was doing voter registration here at the college and some students were saying how they don’t vote, they don’t ever vote, their vote doesn’t count," she said. " And I thought, 'No. This is a college. No no no. This is not okay. We can do better than that.'”

Austin Hansen, Ross Beach

Student debt forgiveness has quickly risen from the fringes and become one of the most widely discussed topics going into the 2020 election.


Right now over 44 million Americans have student loans worth about $1.5 trillion


Many of the Democratic candidates for president have begun floating their plans to forgive some student loans or eliminate them entirely. 

The Democrats Debate: Second Night

Jun 27, 2019

So many Democrats are running for president, the first debate of the 2020 election season stretches over two nights. The Democratic National Committee and NBC News split it into two 10-person debates, from 8 to 10 p.m. CT on Wednesday and Thursday, airing on NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo.