Election 2020

Oberweis Seeks Discovery Recount In 14th District Race

Nov 20, 2020

14th District Congressional GOP Candidate Jim Oberweis is seeking what's called a "discovery" recount in his race against Democratic incumbent Lauren Underwood.

This would have election authorities examine up to 25% of precincts to determine if votes would have gone a different way. Campaign spokesman Travis Akin explained.

“If you are within 5%, you have the opportunity legally to ask for a discovery recount," said Akin. "We will be paying for some of those precincts with funds that we’ve raised for this express purpose.”

Rep. Bustos Nominated To Co-Chair House Committee

Nov 12, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made the announcement Wednesday that Bustos would co-chair the party’s Steering and Policy Committee. This group has a role in determining where Democrats are assigned on other House committees, and they advise party leaders on policy. Bustos said the northwestern Illinois area she represents can provide additional perspective.

“Certainly, I would be the only Midwesterner sitting around that leadership table from a district that Donald Trump has won -- not just one cycle -- but he also won our Congressional district just a week ago.” 

Underwood Wins 14th

Nov 12, 2020

The Associated Press on Thursday called the race for the seat in Illinois' 14th Congressional District for incumbent Democrat Lauren Underwood. She defeated Republican Illinois state senator Jim Oberweis. 

In response to the AP call, Underwood issued the following statement: "I am honored to be reelected to represent Illinois' beautiful 14th District in Congress. This was a tough race under some very difficult circumstances, and I want to say thank you to my supporters, the voters, and our elections officials for their diligent work."    

Flickr user / kristin_a (Meringue Bake Shop) "Vote!" (CC BY 2.0)

Many races in Illinois won’t see results until next Tuesday. 

Winnebago County received many more mail-in ballots than previous years due to the coronavirus. The backlog of ballots is keeping election authorities busy trying to clear it. Winnebago County Clerk Lori Gummow said it’s important to not fall for fake reports since final election results aren’t out yet. 

Rep. Jeff Keicher

Illinois residents voted down the proposed graduated income tax plan. Some education experts were hopeful those extra funds could help restore a portion of funds lost due to pandemic revenue shortfalls.

State Representative Jeff Keicher wasn’t surprised the graduated income tax amendment failed. The Sycamore Republican says it was a matter of a lack of trust in the legislature and Governor J.B. Pritzker to spend that money wisely. He sits on the higher-ed finance committee.

NIU Faculty Weigh In On Post-Election Ponderings

Nov 6, 2020
Northern Illinois University

Election Day may be over, but there is plenty to talk about before the inauguration. 

Voters are still glued to their screens to find out who will lead the nation…and what the final vote has to say about how a politically divided country will move forward.

That’s behind the timing of a virtual panel Thursday night. Experts from Northern Illinois University’s colleges of Law and Political Science took questions from the community about different election-related subjects. 

Peter Medlin

Illinois voters said “no” to the graduated income tax on Tuesday. 


More than 100 labor groups including the Illinois Education Association came out in favor of the proposed amendment. Kathi Griffin is president of the IEA. She said Illinois needed the tax proposal to pass to continue paying for Evidence-Based Funding (EBF) of K-12 schools.


One of the closest races is in Illinois’ 14th Congressional District. Incumbent Democrat Lauren Underwood faces challenger Republican Jim Oberweis.

On Wednesday, the Oberweis campaign issued a statement declaring victory. But in a virtual news conference on Thursday afternoon, Underwood said that the race is not over and that there are thousands of vote-by-mail ballots outstanding.

Durbin Re-elected To U.S. Senate

Nov 4, 2020

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin has won a fifth term.  The Democrat outdistanced Republican Mark Curran and three other candidates.  Durbin is the Senate Minority Whip.  He says after the election, Congress has work to do.

“My first priority is going to start next week," Durbin. "I think we need to pass a COVID-19 relief bill and do it quickly on a bipartisan basis.”

Durbin says any plan needs to include money for states to replace lost revenue during the pandemic.

Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger declared victory Tuesday night to keep his seat in Illinois’ 16th district. Kinzinger told reporters during a virtual call that one factor that may have helped with voters was “authenticity.”

“Whether they agree with every decision I make or not, I think there’s a lot of people that respect the fact that they know that I believe what I’m saying, and it’s not out to defend a party or anything along that line,” Kinzinger said.

Peter Medlin

DeKalb County -- like many counties across the country -- shattered early voting and vote-by-mail records. But that doesn’t mean the polls have slowed down on Election Day, amid COVID-19 safety measures.

Election judges at some precincts said that by noon they were closing in on full-day totals from the 2016 election.

“This is actually one of my first times voting,” said LeShawn Jackson. He was a part of protests in DeKalb this summer.

The movement for racial justice and police reform was a major reason he needed to cast his ballot. 

DePaul University

This week, an election-focused episode with Dr. Christina Rivers, associate professor of political science at DePaul University. She studies voting rights, African American politics and she’s taught several inside-out classes at the Stateville Correctional Center with students on the inside and DePaul students.

Pixabay user ArtsyBeeKids

A Northern Illinois University professor says presidential political polls are likely to be more accurate this year than in 2016. 

Political Science professor April Clark said there were several complicating factors in 2016. These included a greater percentage of nonpartisan voters to consider and the timing of their votes.

“In 2016, we had a large percentage of late deciders that broke for Trump, but we don’t have that same pool of undecideds that can break for him," she said. "So the chances of him turning this around are diminishing.” 

Flickr user Images Money / "Tax" (CC BY 2.0)

A Northern Illinois University professor says a graduated income tax wouldn’t have much of an effect on many Illinois residents. 

Dr. Kurt Thurmaier is the chair of NIU’s Department of Public Administration. He says most people would pay a rate of around 4.9% of their net income.

“If you have that much money left over, you have $60,000 left over, you’re good. You have the same tax. There’s no change. But if you have the same equivalent of four to six households after all your expenses, you’re going to pay higher tax.”

Four Downstate Lawmakers Launch 'Restore Illinois Tour'

Oct 20, 2020

A group of lawmakers is traveling around the state this week on what they are calling the “Restore Illinois” tour. 

The group consists of four Republican lawmakers; Darren Bailey, Chris Miller, Blaine Wilhour, and Brad Halbrook. Bailey said the group wants to address various longstanding problems, which they believe come from “unethical behavior” and “bad rule” by the Illinois government.

“We’re just sick and tired of the way Illinois is doing business," he said. "We want to get the word out. We want to let people know that there is hope for Illinois.” 


A voter registration site for students at Northern Illinois University will not be open on Election Day. 

The Holmes Student Center currently serves as an on-campus early voting site and a place for students to register to vote up through Election Day. But the DeKalb County Clerk recently announced the site would not be open for these services on Nov. 3, 2020.

Peter Medlin

Over the summer, the school year was still in limbo and racial tensions were running high in Rockford as well as communities across the country. A former student reached out to Amanda Becker with a simple question: “Mrs. Becker, how are you going to teach about this?”

Becker is a history teacher at Auburn High School and a Rockford historian. Her answer was a philosophy she learned from her own teaching mentors.

“The best thing to do is to let the kids talk. That's it. Don't teach them anything. Let the kids talk,” she said.


An independent candidate is looking to gather support in the race for the Illinois 16th Congressional District. 

Roy Jones is a write-in candidate who describes himself as post-partisan. He said running outside the major parties allows him to suggest things they would brush aside.

Susan Stephens

Tuesday is the deadline to register to vote by mail in Illinois.

Most people in county jails haven’t been convicted of a crime. And those people awaiting trial are still eligible to vote. If you're a registered voter, you may still request a mail-in ballot while you're detained before the election. 

2020 is the first year where county jails in Illinois are mandated to have a vote-by-mail system in place for those people. 

Joyce Klein is the chief of corrections in DeKalb County.

Paul Carpenter 2020 Website

Winnebago County State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross is defending her decision to dismiss an assistant state’s attorney who is also a current candidate to succeed her in the office.



Hite Ross removed Assistant State’s Attorney Paul Carpenter from his post over the weekend. She said all employees in her office are employed "at will" which means they can be dismissed at her discretion at any time.


Scott P. Yates/ Rockford Register Star

Officials are working to produce programs that could change how we respond to mental health crises, suicide attempts and addiction across Winnebago County.

Logan Lundberg tried to kill himself days after leading a peaceful march through downtown, demanding an end to police brutality.

Lundberg, 22, said he struggles with bipolar disorder and depression despite his emergence as a prominent activist in the local civil rights movement.

Spencer Tritt

We’re covering elections a little differently this year. Because in 2020, WNIJ believes “You’re the Boss” at the ballot box. And we’ve been hearing from you about what’s important, and what you want the candidates to be talking about.

Take the survey!

The goal of citizen-led journalism is that voters tell us what they want the candidates to be talking about, and what solutions they think could make their communities better.

Peter Medlin

Early voting is open in Illinois. But five minutes before it opened on February 6, election integrity actually just sounds like a long receipt being printed out by a voting machine. That’s because it is. It has every race, every candidate, every party. 

And since voting starts less than five minutes from this moment...it all reads zero. 

“All of the numbers have to match every day,” said Jessica Rugerio, a deputy clerk in DeKalb County.

They compare the numbers to the paper ballots, no app required. 

LISTEN LIVE: Iowa Caucuses

Feb 3, 2020

Mary Louise Kelly and Sarah McCammon will host NPR's live coverage of the Iowa Caucuses with reports from the NPR Politics Team. Just push "Play" below:

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.