Finally — the midterm elections are here, and it is time to make your vote count. Historically the midterm elections have a lower voter turnout than a presidential election, but this year the midterms hold an even bigger meaning, especially with the divisive political climate in the country today. Americans will be voting on the House of Representatives, Senate and state legislature seats, and governorships, in an election that could tip the Republican hold on Congress.
According to Democracy Works, whose goal is to help America reach 80 percent turnout by 2024, voter participation is critically low, and 60 percent of non-voters don’t vote because of process issues. Sorting out the candidates and finding out where and when to vote can be confusing, but the internet has made it easier than ever. Read on for helpful resources and answers to frequently asked questions about the Midterm Elections below.
Are you eligible to vote?
If you are a U.S. citizen who has resided in Illinois for at least 30 days prior to election day and are at least 18 years of age by Tuesday, you can vote.
Where & When: Tuesday, Nov. 6 from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Finding your polling place is easy. Simply go to Google and type in “where do I vote” and enter your address. You can also search at Vote.org. The results will give you your polling place with the address. If you arrive right at 7 p.m., don’t worry — if you are in line during voting hours, you have the right to vote.
Want to vote early? You can see the list of locations here.
What to Bring:
Are you registered? You can check your voter registration status at Rock the Vote. If you are not registered, don’t fret! In Illinois you can register quickly on voting day at your local polling place. To register, you need two pieces of identification, one being your form of ID and one that shows your current address, like a utility bill.
What Not to Bring:
Your camera or phone in the ballot booth. Although it may be tempting to share that you are voting with your social following, it is actually prohibited by state law to take a photo or video while you are casting your ballot. Take a fun shot outside your polling place and remember to grab your “I Voted” sticker on the way out!
Who is Running:
It depends on your county and city, but in addition to electing representatives in the U.S. House, Illinois residents will also vote for governor. You can see who will be on your ballot at Ballotpedia.
The Big One: Illinois Governor
There are three candidates running against incumbent Governor Bruce Rauner, a Republican, who is also seeking reelection this year. They are Democrat J.B. Pritzker, Libertarian Kash Jackson, and Conservative Sam McCann. You can read where they stand on issues here and who is endorsing the candidates here.
What if you have trouble registering or voting?
Contact the Election Protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
Where can you find election results?
Most media outlets will have real-time results, and of course your local news channel will be broadcasting all day with updates. You can also find results at Politico along with their predicted results for the race.
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Macaire Douglas lives in Chicago with her husband and two sons. She proudly supports Share Our Spare, a local nonprofit that collects goods for children in need.