voting

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.

Judith Meyer

Our guest this episode is Judith Meyer, she’s an artist -- a painter, to be exact -- and art professor at Rock Valley College.

Judith talked to host Peter Medlin about how to virtually teach about art, the unexpected places around the world her art has gone to, what she's been working on during the pandemic, creativity as a spiritual exercise and so much more.

Peter Medlin

With weeks until election day, Illinois is breaking early voting records. Residents are voting in person, by mail and delivering ballots to drop boxes.

Americans are crafting voting plans on how they want to cast their ballot during a pandemic.

Alex Boutros is the community organizing manager at Chicago Votes. They’re reminding voters that even if you requested a vote-by-mail ballot, you can still change your mind and vote in person.

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.

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.

A recent bill signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker made Election Day a state holiday. But political science research suggests that isn’t an optimum way to ensure voting access.

Northern Illinois University professor Scott Schraufnagel said a state holiday doesn’t guarantee certain groups, such as retail and farm workers, actually get time off.

“And the people who would get the day off (government workers, school employees and so forth) are people who generally tend to vote anyway.” 

Wikimedia Commons

A few years ago, DePaul professor Dr. Christina Rivers started teaching a different kind of law and politics course.

About half of the class is made up of typical DePaul students and the other students are serving time at the Stateville Correctional Center. The class is held inside the maximum security prison.

Her class does a group project where they create a policy proposal. Half of the projects students presented were about voting rights and education in the first year at Stateville.

Peter Medlin

Illinois residents will go to the polls to vote Tuesday. But coronavirus concerns are causing election officials to take precautions and make last-minute changes.

Counties across Illinois moved polling locations out of nursing and retirement homes. Over 150 locations were changed just in Chicago.

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.

On the latest episode of Statewide, a new report examines the past and present of corruption in both Chicago and the State of Illinois.  It also ranks them compared to other governments throughout the country.  Spoiler alert: it's not a pretty picture. 

How are college students viewing this election season and what questions do they have for candidates?

And despite the same pressures faced by the newspaper industry as a whole, some individuals are making an effort to keep student papers keep printing.  

That and more on Statewide.

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. 

Illinois election officials are working to defend against foreign cyberattacks in this year's elections.

ILLINOIS CENTRAL MANAGEMENT SERVICES / IOCI

A package of bills signed into law by Governor J.B. Pritzker is aimed at helping newly-released Illinois prisoners find their way back into the democratic process.

Kilroy Watkins spent nearly 30 years in Illinois’ prison system for a felony crime, and those serving time for a felony can’t vote. But once Watkins got out, he had earned his voting rights back, but didn’t know it. What’s more: no one bothered to tell him.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Illinois’s League of Women Voters is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the state being the first to ratify the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.  

 

Wikimedia Commons

Elections in Illinois are often handled on a regional basis by the County Clerk. Larger communities like Aurora and Rockford have independent boards, but some of these groups are consolidating into their county governments.

Our story begins in DeKalb County, which recently purchased a set of used voting machines from neighboring Kane County. Clerk and Recorder Doug Johnson says Kane no longer needed them, and it was a way to update the voting infrastructure without waiting for the state to approve new machines.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner on Tuesday vetoed legislation that would have gotten the state out of the controversial Crosscheck voter identification program.

The Interstate Crosscheck System is meant to identify voters who are double registered.

But an analysis by academics at Stanford, Harvard and Microsoft found one Crosscheck purging strategy would eliminate 300 legitimate voters for every one double voter.

flickr user / Vox efx "I Voted" (CC BY 2.0)

The Illinois Primary is fast approaching, and early voting has already begun. Election Protection, a national nonpartisan coalition, is offering a toll-free number staffed by attorneys to help. 

Timna Axel is with the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, which leads the Coalition’s efforts in Illinois. She says citizens have a right to vote but, all too often, there are problems with the process.

Ballot Objection Delays Early Voting In Rockford

Feb 7, 2018
FLICKR USER / KRISTIN_A (MERINGUE BAKE SHOP) "VOTE!" (CC BY 2.0)

The Rockford Board of Elections is postponing early voting for the March 20th primary election.

This comes after an objection for State Representative Scott Drury’s attorney general bid. The case hinges on whether the Highwood Democrat properly filed a statement of economic interest.

Stacey Bixby is executive director of the Rockford Board of Elections.

New Mayors For DeKalb and Sycamore

Apr 4, 2017
Jenna Dooley

Jerry Smith will be the next DeKalb mayor

He won with 48 percent of votes.

Separated by just four votes, Misty Haji-Sheikh had 19.21 percent while incumbent John Rey finished a close third with 19.13 percent. Michael Embrey had 13 percent of votes.

John Rey has served as mayor since 2013. 

Smith is a former executive director of the DeKalb County Community Foundation. 

FLICKR/ VOX EFX

Some Illinois voters found out last fall that it's illegal to take a selfie with their ballot.  

Lawmakers are trying to change that, and are inspired by what they characterize as young people wanting to share the fulfillment of their civic duty on social media.

Amanda Sunley is a sophomore at New Berlin High School. She says she probably wouldn’t take a selfie at the voting booth.

“I just think it’s like your own business like when you’re voting, and you shouldn’t take pictures and talk about it as soon as you vote."

 

Wikimedia

We’re just past one election, but another is right around the corner.

There are fewer candidates than spots up for election in DeKalb County. The April 4 election covers a variety of positions, like city mayors, aldermen, trustees, and school board members.

DeKalb County Clerk and Recorder Doug Johnson says there will be numerous tax referenda, like a one percent increase in Sandwich. He says these proposals help fill in gaps during times of financial need.

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

An attempt to institute automatic voter registration in Illinois is dead.

Republican Governor Bruce Rauner cited potential voter fraud when he previously rejected the legislation.

The House failed Tuesday to override his veto.

GOP State Representative Mike Fortner of West Chicago says the plan is flawed. He says it would have created too long a government paper trail on anyone choosing to opt out of registering, and that's a security issue. 

Fortner says there are better ways to make registering easier.

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

Taking a selfie at a polling place could be illegal in several states – including Illinois and Wisconsin.

That reminder comes after pop star Justin Timberlake took a selfie at a voting booth in Tennessee.

DeKalb County Clerk Doug Johnson says about 8,000 early votes have been tallied in DeKalb County so far. He says he wants to encourage voter enthusiasm in this election and not scare people, but he says voters must be careful of where they take their post-vote selfies.

"VOTE" By Flickr User Theresa Thompson / (CC X 2.0)

Illinois election officials say the number of registered active voters in the state is at its highest since 1970.

Illinois State Board of Election spokesman Jim Tenuto said Tuesday morning that there are 7.9 million registered active voters in the state. That's more than the 7.8 million who were registered in 2008 before then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois successfully ran for president.

That number was the previous high.

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

After receiving inquiries, the Illinois State Board of Elections has issued an alert to assure voters of the integrity of the upcoming election.

It comes as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump continues to claim that the election is "rigged."

In last night's debate, Trump was cagey about whether he'll accept the outcome on November 8th.

The board's assistant director, Jim Tenuto, says tampering with electronic voting machines or coordinating a statewide effort to cheat would be difficult, given that elections are locally-managed.

A federal judge has ordered the state to investigate whether transportation officials have been denying people temporary photo identification to vote.

U.S. District Judge James Peterson issued the order Friday.

Peterson in July ordered the state to quickly issue credentials valid for voting to anyone trying to obtain a free photo ID for voting but lack the underlying documents such as birth certificates.

"Courtroom One Gavel" by Flickr User Beth Cortez-Neavel / (CC BY 2.0)

A federal judge denied an Illinois attorney general's office request for him to reverse his decision halting same-day voter registration at polling stations.

A Thursday hearing in Chicago federal court lasted just minutes as Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan denied the request.

He ruled earlier this week that, as-written,  the same-day registration options benefited Democratic strongholds, such as Chicago, and disadvantaged rural regions.

Lisa Madigan's office argued that yanking the option so close to the Nov. 8 election would unfairly deny some citizens voting rights.

League of Women Voters

Tuesday, Sept. 27, is National Voter Registration Day.  It's a reminder that you can't vote if you aren't registered.

The deadline for Illinois residents to register outside of their local election office is Oct. 11, and the League of Women Voters of Greater Rockford has scheduled registration events before then at several locations throughout the Rockford area. 

The Illinois Senate has approved a measure allowing automatic voter registration in Illinois.

The chamber advanced the proposal 42-16 on Thursday.

Backers say they looked at similar laws in states like Oregon when crafting the Illinois proposal. It gives election officials data from five state agencies to automatically register eligible voters unless they opt out.

Proponents include voting rights advocates who say it'd improve access and update voter files before November.

The U.S. attorney's office in Chicago says it will help monitor the primary election in the city and surrounding suburbs for illegal voting activity.

A statement from the office says a telephone hotline will be set up for people to call in any suspicious activity on Tuesday. The hotline number is 312-469-6157.

Illegal activity under federal law includes trying to buy or sell votes, the intimidation of voters and the stuffing of ballot boxes.

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