Guest post written by Alexis J. Rangel
Hello, Choristers and adoring fans!
Election season is here again! Although, you could say that it never really left, did it?
The City of Chicago just had Election Day on February 26th, but we’ve got a bit of unfinished business to take care of before we can officially close out this municipal election cycle. Many of the races from a few weeks ago did not have a clear winner, and so now we find ourselves heading into a city-wide runoff election on Tuesday, April 2nd.
Local elections have a profound impact on our day-to-day lives, and this mayoral election is guaranteed to be one for the history books as we elect the first Black woman to be Mayor of Chicago. As an organization dedicated to creating music to inspire change and a membership committed to growth beyond the realm of music, it is important for us to engage with our elected officials and to exercise our right to vote. I am passionate about voter engagement, and I want to share my knowledge so that every member of our chorus family who is eligible to vote has the opportunity to cast a ballot.
In the past five years, I have served with the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners as a nonpartisan Election Coordinator and an Election Judge. I’ve also worked on campaigns for candidates, issue advocacy, and referenda, and served on the endorsement committees of a number of political organizations. With this experience, I’ve created the following (relatively) simple three step guide to voting in the upcoming runoff election. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me directly or visit the website for our election authority, the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners (CBEC), at www.chicagoelections.com.
Step One – Register to Vote
Check Your Registration
If you’re not sure if you are registered to vote at your current address, you can check your registration with the CBEC here. Just enter your address and last name. Once you’re registered, you can also come here to find a wealth of information, including your official Election Day Polling Place and a phone/address list of the public officials who represent you, from President of United States all the way down to your City Alderman.
Not registered? There’s still time!
The State of Illinois makes it easy to register to vote! While the deadline to register by mail for the upcoming run-off has already passed, you can still register online or in-person on the day you vote.
To register online, you’ll need the last four digits of your Social Security Number and either an Illinois Driver’s License or Illinois ID Card. Just provide your information to the Illinois State Board of Elections at the following website before the deadline (11:59 PM, Sunday, March 17th) and you’ll be all set to vote in the upcoming election. You’ll even receive your voter registration card in the mail (eventually).
To register in person, you will need to bring 2 approved forms of ID with you when you vote. At least one of your forms of ID must show your current address. While you can register without a government-issued photo ID, it can be helpful if there is a question about the registration, address, signature, or if there are two voters with the same or similar names at the same address. This link provides all acceptable forms of ID, just be sure at least one has your current address!
Step Two – Make a plan
Look up a Sample Ballot
Take a moment to figure out what offices you’ll be voting on and who you can vote for. Every Chicagoan will see the offices of Mayor and City Treasurer on their ballots. Some of us will also have the thrill of voting in the run-off for an Alderman, our representative in City Council. The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners provides a link to a sample ballot using the same tool we used for registration earlier.
A number of organizations also provide sample ballots to voters. One example, BallotReady, also gives a short description of each office on the ballot.
Research the Candidates
Find the candidates that share your values. Many organizations try to put out fair and balanced information on candidates or provide candidate responses to the same questions on an issues that are important to them. Below are a few to get you started. In an effort to remain neutral here, I’ve intentionally selected examples that do not provide endorsements. Plenty of respectable organizations also endorse candidates, and you should take into consideration what they have to say as well. Look to organizations that share your values, but don’t be shy about questioning how an organization arrived at a decision.
Chicago’s New Boss
Step Three – VOTE
Vote by Mail
Request a mail-in ballot and postage-paid return envelope using the link below. The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners suggests submitting your request no later than Wednesday, March 20th to ensure that you have enough time to receive and return your ballot by election day.
In-person Early Voting
During Early Voting, you can register and cast your ballot at ANY of the 51 voting locations spread across the city. The first site, the Loop Super Site at 175 W Washington, is already open, and the remaining 50 sites will open on Monday, March 18th. View addresses and hours here.
Vote on Election Day
Election day is Tuesday, April 2nd, and polls will be open from 6 AM to 7 PM at roughly 2000 polling places across the city! This may seem like a lot, but on election day you can ONLY cast your ballot at the polling place in the precinct where you live. Look up your polling place using this link, and don’t forget your plan! Please remember that you cannot campaign at the polling place. This includes wearing campaign related clothing, buttons, stickers. Steer clear of anything that might be viewed as campaigning, and make sure you’re in line by 7 PM! #CGMCVotes