Election 2020

You're the boss at the ballot box this year. In 2020, we are covering elections a little differently, and it puts you in the driver's seat.

In previous election cycles, our reporters have gone to local and regional candidates to ask questions about how they plan to serve in public office. This year, we want voters leading these conversations.

In collaboration with Illinois Newspapers of the USA Today Network, WNIJ is co-hosting several listening sessions in order to hear directly from voters about what issues are most important to them and specific questions they have for the candidates running to represent their communities. Then, we will ask those questions to the candidates.

We will share those responses here and on-air between now and November.

We also want to hear from you!

Take the survey!

Additional support for "You're the Boss" comes from a grant from the Solutions Journalism Network.

Just over a thousand votes separate Democratic incumbent Rep. Lauren Underwood from challenger Republican Jim Oberweis. As of Wednesday, Oberweis has a razor thin lead.

The Oberweis campaign issued a statement on his social media page declaring victory in the race this afternoon:

We ended Election night with a slight lead over my opponent Lauren Underwood but with numerous votes yet to be counted.

If you were surprised by size of U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis’ margin of victory over his two-time Democratic challenger, you aren’t alone. So was Davis. 

Jerry Nowicki, Capitol News Illinois

The vote requirement for constitutional amendments is either 60 percent of votes cast on the ballot measure or a simple majority of all of those voting in the election.

As of Tuesday night, unofficial results indicate voters opposed the constitutional amendment by a margin of 55% to 45%.

Supporters conceded on Wednesday morning. According to a statement from John Bouman, Chair of Vote Yes for Fair Tax:

Statement of John Bouman, Chair of Vote Yes for Fair Tax:

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.

There will be a delay of the “Unofficial Election” results from Ogle County for the 90th Representative District between incumbent Republican Tom Demmer and Democrat Seth Wiggins. During the tabulation process, the Ogle County Clerk’s Office discovered that the electronic vote tabulators did not read the oval marks correctly.

According to a news release, the Democratic and Republican Party Chairpersons have been apprised of the situation. The Ogle County Clerk’s Office will begin the re-tabulation process on Thursday, Nov.5th.

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.

Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco

Protests continue in Rockford since the death of George Floyd. Officeholders and activists are looking for pathways to improve police and community relations.

“I feel great. I think I've never been more optimistic about the work that the City's doing to build relationships,” said Rockford’s Mayor Tom McNamara. “Improve our community and the quality of life of our citizens.”

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.

Illinois taxes and the future of nuclear power are major issues in two northern Illinois legislative races. 

These topics were part of the discussion at a recent League of Women Voters virtual forum in DeKalb. The most prominent candidates were those competing in the race for the 70th and 90th Districts of the Illinois House of Representatives.

Midway Village Museum

Some Illinois counties have lower pandemic death tolls than others. Part of the differences come from demographics. And just like on the national scene, Illinois results depend a lot on prevention efforts.

Winnebago County and Champaign County both have a mix of urban and rural populations. Winnebago County has nearly a third more COVID-19 cases than Champaign County, and six times the number of deaths.

WNIJ's 2020 Voting Guide

Oct 6, 2020
Susan Stephens

WNIJ has curated this guide to help you navigate casting your vote during this election.

 The How:

One of our favorite listens on this topic comes from NPR's Life Kit podcast. Clocking in at just 23 minutes, Life Kit explores all your voting options, from mail-in, early and election day voting.

Now that you are ready to vote, are you registered to vote?

Scott P. Yates / Rockford Register Star

Members of the public say the police relationship with the Black community is a top-of-mind issue this election season. This story tackles the issue through the lens of Solutions Journalism, a way of looking at social problems with an eye to identifying ways of solving them.

On average, police nationwide pull over more than 50,000 drivers a day.

Reforms to systemic bias in policing and the courts is a prominent campaign issue in the race for DeKalb County State’s Attorney. 

Republican incumbent Rick Amato faces a challenge from Democratic candidate Anna Wilhelmi in this contest. The two spoke at a recent forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters. Amato’s opening statement touched on the importance of how cases are prioritized. 

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

The City of DeKalb is selling the old City Hall building and using some of those funds to buy body cams for police in an effort to increase police transparency.

Between the dash cam footage of Elonte McDowell’s controversial arrest late last year and the recent protests that followed the death of George Floyd, DeKalb community members have been calling for leaders to reimagine not just the culture of local policing but how police are funded.

Campaigning During COVID-19

Apr 3, 2020
Pixabay

In light of the statewide shelter-in-place order and the new guidelines on social distancing from the White House, a number of Illinois 2020 congressional campaigns have changed their methods for connecting and reaching out to the public.

Jim Oberweis, the Republican challenger in Illinois’ 14th district described the massive change the pandemic brought to his campaign.

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

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.'”