Voting in Chicago: A brief guide to your Nov. 8 ballot

When I first voted at age 18, like many teenagers, I knew and cared little about the legislative process or who was in charge of creating and enacting policy at the local level. Now that I’m all grown up and adulting on a daily basis (OK, sometimes it’s more like a weekly basis), I take my time to research candidates, the decisions they’ll be in charge of, and referendum questions on my ballot before voting.

Here’s some info that helped me decide who I’m voting for:

You can get a basic sample ballot via Google or a more detailed one on the official Chicago Board of Election Commissioners website. My advice is to get the official one because it should have more info.

The Chicago Tribune’s Election Center has candidate questionnaires for candidates running for most of the major elected offices, along with their editorial board’s endorsement for each office. However, the Trib is a conservative paper, so that’s something to keep in mind.

Candidate debates

I wanted more information about the candidates for the job of comptroller, so watched this forum between Susana Mendoza (D), and Leslie Munger (R), the incumbent appointed by Gov. Bruce Rauner after Judy Baar Topinka’s death in 2014, on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight:

Dorothy A. Brown (D) and Diane S. Shapiro (R) are running for Cook County Circuit Clerk. Brown has held the office for 16 years. Here’s their debate on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight.

Chicago Tonight also has a debate between Cook County State’s Attorney (CCSA) candidates Kim Foxx (D) and Christopher Pfannkuche (R). This office has gotten a lot of attention over the last year, as the current CCSA, Anita Alvarez (D), lost the Democratic nomination following controversy over her handling of the Laquan McDonald police shooting case.

Ballot questions

Here are the questions on my Chicago ballot.

For Cook County voters:

“Shall the Office of the Cook County Recorder of Deeds be eliminated and all duties and responsibilities of the Office of the Cook County Recorder of Deeds be transferred to, and assumed by, the Office of the Cook County Clerk by December 7, 2020?” Yes/No

According to DNAInfo, this is a binding question. Here’s a Chicago Tonight video that provides more explanation about the roles of these two offices and the likely results of a proposed merger. Here’s more analysis from The Civic Federation, an independent nonpartisan research group that has supported the proposed merger since 2010.

“Shall Illinois enact the Earned Sick Time for Employees Act which will allow Illinois workers to earn up to 40 hours of sick time a year to take care of their own health or a family member’s health?” Yes/No

According to DNAInfo, this is a nonbinding question.

For Chicago voters, DNAInfo says of the following three questions are nonbinding and: “These “yes or no” votes are advisory and won’t change any governmental policies, but are aimed at indirectly affecting elected officials at the state and city level.”

“Should the State of Illinois strengthen penalties for the illegal trafficking of firearms and require background checks for gun dealers and their employees?” Yes/No

“Should the State of Illinois provide full and equitable funding for the Chicago Public Schools?” Yes/No

“Should the City of Chicago work with the Federal Government and the State of Illinois to prioritize significant new investments in important infrastructure like roads, bridges, public transportation, river and lakefront redevelopment, and additional green space?” Yes/No

One constitutional amendment

From my sample ballot:

Explanation of Amendment: The proposed amendment adds a new section to the Revenue Article of the Illinois Constitution. The proposed amendment provides that no moneys derived from taxes, fees, excises, or license taxes, relating to registration, titles, operation, or use of vehicles or public highways, roads, streets, bridges, mass transit, intercity passenger rail, ports, or airports, or motor fuels, including bond proceeds, shall be expended for other than costs of administering laws related to vehicles and transportation, costs for construction, reconstruction, maintenance, repair, and betterment of public highways, roads, streets, bridges, mass transit, intercity passenger rail, ports, airports, or other forms of transportation, and other statutory highway purposes, including the State or local share to match federal aid highway funds, You are asked to decide whether the proposed amendment should become part of the Illinois Constitution

For the proposed addition of Section 11 to Article IX of the Illinois Constitution. Yes/No

Chicago voters: I hope this info was helpful to you. Now go out and VOTE!


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