Making Democracy Work

Voter Services

Election and Voter Information- HIgh School registration drive nets hundreds of new voters!

November 4, 2014 Election Day

Fall Elections 2014: Key Dates

  • 9/25/2014 First day mail ballots will be sent out
  • 10/7/2014 Last day to register to vote
  • 10/8/2014 First day of grace period registration and voting
  • 10/20/2014 First day of Early Voting
  • 10/30/2014 Last day to request a mail ballot, including military and overseas voters
  • 11/1/2014 Last day of Early Voting
  • 11/1/2014 Last day of grace period registration and voting
  • 11/2/2014 In-person absentee voting at the Clerk's downtown Chicago office
  • 11/3/2014 Last day voted mail ballots can be postmarked for acceptance by the Clerk's office

In-person absentee voting at the Clerk's downtown Chicago office and five suburban courthouse mini-centers
  • 11/4/2014 Election Day

    IF NTHS Board votes 8/13/14 to place referendum on Nov 2014 ballot.

IF Park Board votes to go to place referendum on April 2015 ballot.

Changes in Cook County/Illinois Election Rules for 2014

Changes in Cook County/Illinois Election Rules for 2014

  • Secure online voter registration is available in Illinois. The Illinois State Board of Elections' online voter registration application can be found by clicking here.
  • 17 year old who will be 18 by November 4, 2014 can register to vote after 1/2/14 and vote in the Gubernatorial Primary Election 3/18/14
  • The online application for mail-in voting was simplified for those with a drivers license or state ID
  • Grace-period voter registration (during the month right before an election) has been extended so that citizens can now register at local county courthouses up until the election as long as they vote on the same day
  • Early voting has been extended to include Sundays at certain locations
  • It is now easier to check online whether you are an active voter and where you vote (including a Google map of the location) http://www.cookcountyclerk.com/elections/voterprofile
  • Check in on election day will now be easier at many locations. Election *Judges will have electronic poll books vs the old system of paper records

Redistricting Petitions - Circuit Court rules that Redistricting Amendment is Unconstitutional

Efforts to create a new way to establish voting districts have been quashed by a suit to block the initiative.

Even before the Yes, for Independent Map coalition submitted their 533,000 signatures for the referendum for a new way to established voting districts in Illinois, Mike Madigan and his lawyer filed a suit to block this.

According to Michael Kolenc, the lead for the coalition, the lawsuit was anticipated. In a recent note to the League, Kolenc indicated that the coalition includes a diverse group of supporters, including former U.S. Attorneys, top-tier legal scholars, and many of the state's most well-respected lawyers of all political stripes. He said, the legal advisors spent two years making sure the amendment could withstand scrutiny, and they are confident in the proposal. He added "... this is exactly the kind of referendum that the drafters of the Illinois Constitution believed should bypass the legislature and go directly to the voters.

After all, the leaders of the Illinois General Assembly have no reason to fix the system that has kept them, and their hand-picked successors, in power for decades."

This was an opportunity to do something about gerrymandering and a more open and transparent legislature.

The following is a letter of explanation of the events leading to the closing "Yes - for Independent Maps."

Team,

First, I am unbelievably grateful for the opportunity to work on this campaign with such passionate volunteers as you. You are what made this campaign a success.
Unfortunely, today we are closing down the operations of the campaign to get on the November 2014 ballot. We were handed a ruling today in the Circuit Court declaring our redistricting amendment unconstitutional on narrow grounds. Judge Mikva did declare that if we were to slightly change our language, then redistricting reform as a whole would certainly be constitutional. This should give you plenty of hope for future endeavors, but it (along with a massive, unprecedented opposition effort and problems in the board of elections process) has been too much for us to continue on this campaign.
I encourage all of you to continue this fight. Together, we have achieved so much success:

Over 5,000 volunteers and circulators
Over 500,000 signatures to support redistricting reform
Truly bi-partisan coaltion of supporters representing local community groups and statewide organizations.
Support from every major newspaper in the state
Hundreds of volunteer meetings that has produced the infrastructure for future efforts
You have shaken up Illinois politics and this state will never be the same.
I will send around another email to all of you over the weekend to fill in some of the details of what is happening next with the campaign and with redistricting reform in Illinois.
All I can say is that you should be extremely proud of the work you have done. I know I am.
As for me, I would agree with Teddy Roosevelt when he said "far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."
This is work worth doing and I hope you will continue to work hard with me as we look to achieve ultimate success.

Thank you as always,
Scott Siebel
Field Director

Thank you to all in the LWV-Wilmette members + and their friends who pitched in to make this citizen initiation to change the Illinois Constitution a possibility.

Yes, for Independent Maps -- 533,000 Signatures -- 233,000 more than required!

New Regulations for Voter Registrations for the November, 2014 Election.

New Regulations for Voter Registration for November, 2014 Election

For new registrations, the email address provided on the registration form is shared with both major parties by the Board of Elections.

Read more about new rules on voter registration for November, 2014 election.

Legislative Interviews April 22, 2014

April Legislative Interviews - An Observer Corps Report From the Event

North Shore Leagues Host Lively Exchange with Legislators

By Betty Hayford (LWV Evanston ) and Mary Reynolds & Carole Weber ( LWV Glenview)

On April 22, five North Shore leagues + Evanston, Glencoe, Glenview, Wilmette and Winnetka-Northfield-Kenilworth -- hosted their Springfield representatives for a lively and rich exchange on activities and trends in the Illinois legislature. Senator Daniel Biss (9th District), Representative Laura Fine (17th District) and Representative Robyn Gabel (18th District) met League members at the Glenview Public Library to respond to questions developed by LWVIL. All three responded fully to the questions and, in addition, provided thorough background on the issues and insights into legislative possibilities for the current term.

The three representatives expressed similar views on most issues, although they also provided their individual thoughts on the various questions. They acknowledged that their relatively affluent North Shore districts were similarly distinct from those of their legislative colleagues in other parts of the state, particularly southern Illinois.

All three are working on a fix to the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards. Sen. Biss pointed out that the introduction of electricity aggregation contracts in many municipalities has changed the environment for renewable energy. They also support legislation to "ban the box" on private sector hiring applications, which is related to a number of other steps that need to be taken to improve the criminal justice system. Excessive prison populations need to be reduced to cut state spending and strengthen our communities.

All support increasing state education funding, working to ensure both adequate funds and equitable distribution of funds. State education funding needs to be focused on the neediest communities. Rep. Fine is calling for increased state funding for higher education, currently too expensive for many students. They agree on the need for a moratorium on fracking in order to develop stronger environmental safeguards before it is allowed.

Sen. Biss believes additional restrictions should be put on concealed weapons, particularly in houses of worship and any places serving liquor. Rep. Gabel suggests that different parts of the state might have different gun regulations to reflect community views.

Rep. Fine described her impression of "two states," northern Illinois and southern Illinois, stating in her replies related to hydraulic fracking and gun violence prevention that one solution might not be right for the entire state but that she is committed to finding answers.

All support the creation of an Illinois Health Insurance Exchange which can provide greater consumer protections. They have a strong commitment to preserving a woman's control over reproductive choices, in consultation with her doctor, and reject the need for new laws to further regulate abortion clinics.

Voter rights get strong support from all three. There is no support for photo I.D. requirements, since there is no evidence of systemic voter fraud to justify this change. All believe early-voting is important to expand voter participation, and weekends and extended hours are more useful than extending the number of days. A longer period for early voting could complicate awareness of the issues and could be costly without being effective.

Sen. Biss expresses support for the Graduated Rate Income Tax (GRIT) amendment to the Illinois constitution, but is not optimistic about it getting the votes in the legislature necessary to be on the ballot in November. He believes that GRIT could be part of a broad set of options to strengthen the financial base of the Illinois government. Rep. Fine added that there is a lot of false information in the media from anti-GRIT foes and also that the proposed millionaires' tax will not be on the ballot.

None of our Springfield legislators is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization which they consider a reflection of the influence of excessive corporate money in government and a danger to the political environment.

The five host Leagues are very appreciative of the thoughtful and informative presentations of all three representatives. The Leagues working together and the representatives responding collectively produced a valuable encounter.

To see the full set of questions and responses, see below:

Representative Fine. Senator Biss. Representive Gabel.

A Potential Referendum in November on Term Limits

A Potential Referendum in November on Term Limits

GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner recently turned in a petition to election officials with more than 590,000 signatures for a referendum to get an eight-year term limit in place for state politicians. This measure was also met with legal action from Mike Madigan and his lawyer in an attempt to keep election authorities from including the proposed term-limit referendum on the November ballot.

Do you know LWV IL's Position on Term Limits? The League of Women Voters of Illinois opposes constitutional or statutory term limitations for members of the Illinois General Assembly based on the League's support for accountability, representativeness, and effective performance and for a dynamic balance of power between the legislative and the executive branches. This position is in line with the national League's position on Congress and the Presidency.

Team Effort Results In Record-breaking High School Voter Regisration

LWV Wilmette recognized as a "Democracy Champion" by David Orr, Cook County Clerk

May, 2014

This was an active year for voter registrations. The new law allowing 17-year old to vote in a primary election if they would be 18 by a presidential or mid-term election meant we had almost double the number of eligible students to register at our local high schools. David Orr's office honored our League for the record-breaking number of students we helped to registered before the primary (409). This year we tapped into some social media venues to encourage students to register and were more successful in reaching out to students through school adviseries and clubs.

More change will follow this summer as the online registration process becomes active July 1, 2014. We will continue to assist new voters, but now using iPads as well as paper applications. The online system will be restricted to new voters or those who wish to update their voter information who have an authentic Illinois driver's license or Illinois-issued identification card. This requirement for state ID is in place because electronic signatures will be copied from the Secretary of State database. For all others, the traditional options for registration remain (eg, Village Hall, Secretary of State offices, County Clerk's offices, and voter registration drives like ours).

Along with five other North Shore league members, three candidates from our League were trained as moderators in January. This new group of trained moderators will greatly help to relieve the shortage of trained moderators League-wide as we face a busy year for forums (November 2014, March 2015). The League is well served by our nine trained deputy registrars. A class for new registrars is planned for early this fall.

David Orr has recognized LWV Wilmette for our outstanding efforts in registering students at Loyola Academy and New Trier High School. In his letter of congratulations, he said "Your League has set a high standard that pushed other schools and organization to go the extra mile. It also gave our office a sense of momentum as we pushed schools and groups to be ambitious about engaging their students." He goes on to say, "You are true Champions of Democracy and we are lucky to have you as partners.",

Team Effort Results in Record-breaking, 413 New High School Student Voters

104 at Loyola Academy and 309 at New Trier High School

The outpouring of students to our high school voter registration events was overwhelming. Just take a look at the front page article in Trib Local this week to get a sense of what the New Trier High School event looked like. Click here to read the article.. One teacher brought his entire advisery to register with ID information in hand. In response to the large number of applicants, we tapped additional League members to help shorten the wait. Many thanks to league members from Glenview, Winnetka, and Glencoe for their support and to Wilmette members Lali Watt, Susan Morrison, Saima Abbasi, Therese Steinkin, Beth Nyhan, and Leslie Parsons.

Read more in Trib Local article.

Both New Trier and Loyola have agreed to send follow-up notices to their student body to remind them about the March 18th primary. The new Illinois law allowing 17-year olds to vote in primary elections if they will be 18 by the November mid-term or presidential elections has clearly sparked interest in participation in our election process. We heard over and over how frustrated students were with the inaction in Springfield and Washington. On a very positive note, several students shared with us that they are already serving as election judges or volunteering on campaigns. With stronger youth participation, hopefully, it will become increasingly clear to our legislators that gridlock is not acceptable.

Trudy Gibbs Voter Services Chair

An urgent communication from LWV President, Elizabeth McNamara - Campaign Contribution Limits Struck Down By US Supreme Court

President McNamara warns that there has been another devastating ruling handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court this week and urges leagues across the county to take action. She is talking about the McCutcheon vs. FEC case where the Court ruled 5 to 4 that aggregate campaign contribution limits are invalid--raising big donors above citizens as it did in Citizens United. The Court's decision this week opened a huge loophole allowing political parties to be further corrupted by big money contributions. The party and PAC systems now become an enormous funnel for corrupting elected officials across the country. McNamara goes on to say "this is yet another irresponsible decision on money in politics! The Roberts Court is undermining our democratic system -- saying that big money is worth more than the voices of individual citizens." McNamara adds, "With these limits on campaign contributions set up by Congress to protect voters now struck down, we must work harder than ever to make sure the voter's voice is heard in our democracy." see http://tinyurl.com/m4n8t5y

Voters Guide for Cook County and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Primary Election

This year, the Cook County League has published a Voters Guide for Cook County and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.

Click here for The Cook County League of Women Voters website.

CLICK HERE FOR VOTERS GUIDE

Note: for County Commissioner, we are in district #13. For Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, we vote for 3 commissioners out of a list of many -- in other words, we are not restricted to a specific district.

The full ballot for Suburban Cook County's March 18th primary election has also been posted on the Cook County Clerk's office website, click here.

Update on Redistricting Petition 2014

Petitions are being circulated by the group,Yes, For Independent Maps

Information can be found on the Yes, For Independent Maps website.

From the website: Voters do not have a true choice if they cannot choose candidates who have a fair chance of winning. Redistricting behind closed doors stymies the will of the people.

  • The Issue on the Table

77% of Illinois voters believe corruption in Illinois government is widespread, according to the 2012 Simon Poll. They're right: A recent University of Illinois study ranked Illinois the third most corrupt state. Voter cynicism is widespread. According to the National Conference on Citizenship, only 15% of Illinoisans believe state government does the right thing most of time. Yet we can't hold politicians accountable because they have taken over the redistricting process.

Political leaders from both parties own redistricting--the process of drawing legislative maps. Behind closed doors, they rig the district boundaries to control who will be elected, leaving voters without a voice. These same politicians choose their voters, instead of the people deciding who will represent them. Legislators have little reason to listen to the needs of Illinois residents, because there's no way for voters to hold them accountable.

Last year, Illinois House incumbents won 97% of their general election races; two-thirds of them did not even face a challenger.

  • Our Solution

Our coalition aims to fix the broken process by putting an amendment on the November 2014 ballot.Our proposed constitutional amendment would take redistricting out of the hands of politicians and give the power back to the people. This amendment brings independence to a broken, unfair, and secret process that gives politicians too much control. We need to put the voters back in charge and our proposed system is transparent, nonpartisan and independent from the legislature.

The campaign is going well with a steady stream of completed petitions returned each day. More are still needed, so please continue to get signatures and turn them in. Mail completed and notarized petitions to:

Michael Kolenc, 300 N. Elizabeth, Ste. 220B, Chicago, IL 60607.

At the State Issues Briefing Meeting on February 1st, organizers and the League's Issue Specialist, Paula Lawson, elaborated on why it is important to fight for this citizen's initiative to amend the Illinois Constitution. Some of their main points include:

  • There are only 2 contested races for Illinois Senate this election cycle. Current redistricting so favors incumbents that new or independent candidates do not run. This is well documented by the record...97% of incumbents are re-elected.

  • With the same legislators returned to Springfield year after year, they do not feel accountable to voters and we lose our voice in the legislature.

  • In those states where redistricting has been put in the hands of independent commissions, the results in the legislatures have been transformative -- the change establishes a requirement that citizens are part of due process.

  • Polling now shows that 70% of Illinoisans want this change...and this is without a real campaign to vote for the referendum, only to get the referendumm on the ballot.

  • The powerful politicians in either party do not want this citizen initiative to succeed; let's not let them have their way.

For more information about the campaign, see http://independentmaps.org/. To request more petitions: Contact Trudy Gibbs at trudygibbs28@gmail.com

New Bipartisan Bill to Repair and Restore the Voting Rights Act

On January 16 2014, bipartisan representatives James Sensenbrenner, John Conyers, Bobby Scott, John Lewis and Senate Judiciary Chairman, Patrick Leahy have introduced common sense legislation that would repair and restore the Voting Rights Act. This bipartisan effort is designed to fix the damage done by the US Supreme Court's 2013 decision in Shelby v. Holder.

The effort by these legislators goes a long way toward preventing racial and language discrimination in our elections and protect the fundamental right to vote for all Americans. Congress can pass this legislation this year and ensure that the electoral process is free, fair and accessible. US LWV President Elizabeth McNamara has encouraged us all to tell our representatives and senators the Voting Rights Act needs to be repaired and vote for the new legislation. The following link takes you to the League of Women Voters form.

April 9, 2013 - VOTERS GUIDE

CLICK HERE FOR VOTERS GUIDE

CLICK HERE FOR CANDIDATE FORUM PROGRAM

Streaming Video of the Candidate Forum Sunday, March 17, click here and select SPECIAL PROGRAMS

Village Votes for Trustees, Commissioners, and Board Members April 9

The League held a Candidate Forum at the Village Hall on Sunday, March 17th. Ccandidates answered questions about how they would deal with pressing issues before the Village Board, Park Board, District #39 School Board and the Wilmette Public Library Board of Trustees.

Rebroadcasts of the event will be on Wilmette Local Access Channel as follows:

  • Thursday, 3/21

7pm LWV Forum - Village Trustee and President

8:30pm LWV Forum - Park Board

  • Monday, March 25th

6 pm LWV Forum - School District #39

7 pm LWV Forum - Library Board

  • Wednesday, March 27th

5pm LWV Forum - Village Trustee and President

6 pm LWV Forum - Park Board

7 pmLWV Forum - School District #39

8 pm LWV Forum - Library Board

  • Friday, March 29th - Sunday, March 31st

7:30pm LWV Forum - School District #39

8:30pm LWV Forum - Park Board

9:30pm LWV Forum - Village Trustee and President

10:30pm LWV Forum - Library Board

League of Women Voters of Wilmette's Voter's Guide contains written answers to questions posed to all the candidates, even those in uncontested races. It will be distributed at public buildings throughout Wilmette and is available online at the League of Woman Voters website.

1 to 2 Village Board Presidential Candidates

2 to 3 Candidates for Park District Board of Commissioners

3 to 4 Candidates for Wilmette District #39 Board of Education

4 to 5 Candidates for the Wilmette Public Library Board of Trustees

Your Polling Place May Have Changed

Your polling place may have changed!! Check the website:

Cook county Clerk Polling Place

Once on the website, go to Elections. Then put in the required information, which includes your name and address. Click GO and you will then see your polling place.

Consolidation of Precincts

To save Cook County money on election costs, a number of polling places are being consolidated. Of the current 65 precincts in New Trier Township, 19 will be eliminated. As yet, not all of the consolidation decisions have been finalized. However, by the end of February, voters affected by the change in the location of their polling place will receive a notice by mail. Look for those postcards yourself and spread the word about the closings to neighbors and friends. Due to the late date for decisions on closings, it is best to use the Cook County website at cookcountyclerk.com to confirm a polling place rather than the National League Polling Place Finder at Vote411.org.Here is a telephone number for the County Clerk: (312) 603-5656

Boundaries for State and Congressional Districts

VOTER INFORMATION

Vote411.org Find the facts about voting in your state at Vote411.org. Before an election, find your polling place.

Find information about the next election at .....

Cook County Clerk:http://www.cookctyclerk.com/

Local Referendum -Wilmette Power Purchasing Program Passed - WP3

Wilmette Power Purchasing Program

Wilmette League Endorses Cost Savings Plus 50% Renewable Energy Option

Wilmette voters by a large margin passed the referendum on authorizing the Village managers to form an aggregation of customers to collectively obtain our supply of electricity. The objective is to achieve rates that are lower than currently offered through ComEd.

At the April 27, 2012 Board meeting, we discussed how the Village of Wilmette in conjunction with the Village of Kenilworth is moving ahead very quickly with the selection of an alternative electric supplier for the newly form aggregate of residential and small commercial customers. The Wilmette Village management has been clear in public statements and in their presentation to our Board that the objective of the program is only to save money. With a "cost only" criteria for the selection of a supplier, Wilmette and Kenilworth will buy a standard package of electrical power from plants that produce power as the result of burning fossil fuels along with the required minimum of 7% renewable energy sources. At the first (and only) meeting of the Administration Committee of the Village Board on the topic, three options for suppliers were presented:

  • 1)standard package plus 7% renewable;
  • 2)100% renewables; and
  • 3)a complex hybrid of a standard package plus an option for residents to buy renewable energy certificates (RECs). The Committee was easily convinced the last option was too complex, but added a fourth option of standard package plus 50% renewable energy sources.

The endorsement statement that was presented and approved at the April LWV Board meeting is intended as a signal to the two Village boards that we support the new option. Click here to view Endorsement Position.

Additional information about the program is available on the Village website.

One reason for paying attention to sources selected is that more is at stake than simply cost. Wilmette does not generate any power within our community so that the burden of pollution produced falls in the backyards of other communities. As our managers and elected officials set policy, it is in the people of Wilmette's best interest to be mindful of the total costs of power production and not simply cost savings to our community. More is at stake than just air pollution; there is an enormous amount of water that is fouled in the process of harvesting, transporting, and burning fossil fuels. By selecting providers that will supply a higher percentage of green power, we would be accelerating the important transition from brown to green energy. At the very least, our requests for proposals should ask perspective providers to ask for what is called "power labeling" to disclose energy sources that would be provided. We need to keep in mind that the lowest costs to us come from aging coal and nuclear plants, but these plants are also associated with the highest healthcare burdens on society and they are already receiving large government subsidies.

Illinois Constitutional Amendment Bid Fails in November Election

Adapted from ASSOCIATED PRESS, Nov 7, 2012

Illinois voters have rejected a proposed amendment to the State constitution that would have made it more difficult to expand public employee retirement benefits. The proposed amendment fell short of the two criteria needed for passage. The measure needed a favorable vote from either three-fifths of those voting on the measure, or 50 percent of the total number of votes cast in Tuesday's election. Nearly 5 million people voted in the election. With lawmakers stalemated on how to fix a severely underfunded pension system, the amendment would have required a three-fifths vote of the Legislature -- instead of a simple majority -- to increase pension benefits for public employees. Illinois pension systems are in a financial mess, and some critics say legislators too often grant better benefits without worrying about the cost. The amendment was intended to rein in lawmakers who might ram a pension increase through the General Assembly. It's also a reaction to cases of special benefits being provided to well-connected people, such as two union lobbyists who qualified for teachers' pensions after spending just one day as substitute teachers. Critics pointed out the change would do nothing to make up an $85 billion shortfall in the amount owed to five public pension systems. And it would rarely have an effect on pension-boost votes. Most pension "sweeteners" have been approved by overwhelming majorities, and the increases are a small part of the financial problem. They account for only 9 percent of growth in the pension shortfall over the past 15 years. Besides raising the vote requirement in the Legislature, the amendment also would raise the requirement for city councils, school boards and other public bodies to pass anything that would increase pension costs, aside from higher wages. Critics say this invites a storm of lawsuits over exactly what would be covered by the amendment. Copyright 2012 -- Sun-Times Media, LLC

After reviewing the General Assembly's proposal, relevant League positions and precedents, and researching supporting documentation, League of Women Voters of Illinois Board of Directors has decided to oppose HJRCA 49, the Constitutional Amendment referendum proposal that will be on the November 6, 2012 ballot. The rationale and explanation for this decision are on the LWV Illinois League website. (September 20, 2012)

To read the LWVIL rationale for this decision, Click here.

Voters' Rights

Bills to Restrict Voters' Rights to Register and Vote Continue into this Year's State Legislative Sessions

Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Virginia, Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire and North Carolina are among the states seeing the introduction and/or reintroduction of bills that, if passed, could disenfranchise millions of voters across the country. The New York Times ran an editorial this month that links the influence of big money to the wave of voter suppression laws sweeping the country, specifically connecting these efforts with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and its billionaire backers.

For more information read this article on the League of Women Voters U.S. website.

Photo ID Requirement

Two bills are pending in the Illinois legislature to required photo IDs for voting in Illinois (HB3903 and SB2496). The premise is that there is widespread voter fraud although no clear factual evidence points to that being the case; the effect is significant voter suppression.

Consider these statistics:

  • 11% of Americans overall lack photo ID -- that translates to 21 million Americans
  • 18% of Americans older than 65 lack photo ID
  • 25% of African-Americans lack photo ID