Midterm election: everything you need to know

Midterm election: everything you need to know

Samantha Conrad

Midterm election: everything you need to know

By Blaise Mesa

After months of campaigning during the most expensive midterm in U.S. election history—with more than $1 billion spent—voters will soon head to the polls, some for the first time.

Joyce Williams, director of voter registration for the League of Women Voters in the LaGrange area, moved from Massachusetts to Illinois and said she was shocked how long the ballot was.

“There’s a very small percentage of voters who will be totally prepared when they walk into the voting booth,” Williams said.

Williams suggested voters schedule enough time to get to a polling place because the wait could take an hour or more.

Illinois is a same-day-registration state, which means potential voters can bring two pieces of ID to a polling place and will be able to vote that day even if they did not previously register, Williams said.

The Chicago Board of Elections lists passports or military ID, driver’s license, state ID card, college or work ID, vehicle registration card, lease, credit or debit card, social security proof, medicare or medicaid card, insurance card, LINK card, public aid and Department of Human Services card and an Illinois FOID card as acceptable forms of ID, according to its website.

It also lists bills, academic transcripts or report cards, bank statements, pay stubs and official mail from any government agency as acceptable forms of voter ID.

Students who may have moved to a new district for school can either mail home their ballots as absentee voters, or go to a polling place that offers same day registration and vote in the district they currently live in, Williams said.Students must have lived in that district for at least 30 days before voting in that district, she added.

Websites such as Ballotready.com provide information on specific polling places and every candidate.

Uber and Lyft are offering reduced fares for rides to polling places Nov. 6 to spur voter turnout. 

Lyft will provide rides at 50 percent off and shuttle voters in underserved communities to polling places for free. Uber will provide rides to the polls at $10 off.

Approximately six million registered voters aged 18-29 did not vote in the 2016 election, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.

With the midterm election looming, President Donald Trump tweeted Oct. 20 that all levels of government were watching for voter fraud and that violators would be subject to maximum penalties. 

Despite the president’s claims, Jim Allen, a spokesperson for the Chicago Board of Elections, said voter fraud is highly unlikely, and even if it did happen, would not change the outcome of an election.

“We have a hard enough time getting people to vote once,” he said.

Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin, an associate professor in the Communication Department who helped students register to vote during convocation, said voting is a person’s way of putting people in office who will make the changes they wish to see made.

“Failing to vote means that people get into office who enact programs and policies you might disagree with, and you come to regret the fact that you didn’t take action,” Bloyd-Peshkin said.

The Chronicle has reported on the midterm election over the past year, and has compiled a list of its coverage from the gubernatorial race, attorney general’s race and the 7th congressional district.


Governor’s race

On March 5, The Chronicle emailed three questions to each candidate in the gubernatorial primary election about student debt, climate change and employment opportunities for millennials.

In response, Governor of Illinois Bruce Rauner said, “We must transform our vocational, technical and apprenticeship programs so that those who choose not to attend a four-year college can still have an outstanding career with good pay.”

Rauner also boasted about his success in making Illinois a Midwest leader in clean energy jobs, and said fixing the tax and regulatory system could be the start of keeping millennials in Illinois.

During his time in office, Rauner signed bills such as HB 40 to protect abortion rights and keep Illinois a sanctuary state by signing the Trust Act.

J.B. Pritzker said he would expand funding for higher education and expand MAP grants to make college more affordable.

Pritzker said he would take action to enter Illinois in the U.S Climate Alliance and uphold the provisions set forth by the Paris Climate Agreement. 

He will also try to put Illinois on track to meet and surpass the goal of 25 percent renewable energy by 2030, as reported March 5 by The Chronicle.

Pritzker plans to keep people in the state by providing workers and students tools for success. 

After the primary election, The Chronicle contacted candidate Sam McCann of the Conservative Party of Illinois and Libertarian Grayson “Kash” Jackson to ask them the same questions.

McCann, who currently serves as a state senator in the 50th District, said student loan reform and addressing climate change need to come from the federal government, and said he will work with President Trump to address those issues.

As senator, McCann voted to keep MAP grant funding, Jackson did not respond to requests for comment as of press time. According to his campaign website, Jackson will work on the budget and encourage small business growth.


Attorney general candidates

Democratic candidate Kwame Raoul and Republican candidate  Erika Harold have run a bitter campaign, but do agree on certain topics, such as the legalization of marijuana and protecting immigrants from deportation.

Harold earned her Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law in 2007 and, in 2015, was appointed to the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Equality. Raoul earned his Juris Doctor degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law and worked as a prosecutor in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office before running for attorney general.

Harold and Raoul debated Oct. 5 at a Reform for Illinois event , as reported Oct. 13 by The Chronicle.

Both candidates were asked during the debate whether they supported the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, with Harold responding “yes”, and Raoul “no.”

Libertarian candidate Bubba Harsy was not at the Oct. 5 debate, and did not respond to requests for comment as of press time. 

Harsy is a private lawyer, and said he has a generalized practice that includes working with small businesses and criminal defense, according to his website.


7th Congressional District

On Oct. 9, The Chronicle asked 7th Congressional District candidates why they felt qualified to serve as congressman, and how they would help college students.  

Congressman Danny Davis was first elected to the 7th District in 1996, and has spent nearly 40 years in public service. 

Davis is the co-chair of the Congressional Black Caucus’s Education and Labor Task Force, and said this keeps him consistently engaged in problems that affect students. Davis is also involved with multiple scholarship programs, as reported Oct. 9 by The Chronicle.

Davis also said a major part of his campaign is in criminal justice reform, including introducing the Second Chance Act, which helps inmates reintegrate into society.

Craig Cameron does not have experience in public office, but said his time spent managing money, people and resources as a construction manager have prepared him for office. If elected, Cameron said he would help students by attempting to lower interest rates and implementing debt forgiveness plans.

Cameron said he would introduce tax-free zones or give businesses tax credits to help them move into certain parts of the community and stimulate job growth.


UPDATE: 10/31/18 1:34 p.m.: Pritzker has spent his life getting things done for Illinois families and communities in the public and private sectors, which will prepare him for the governor’s seat if elected, he said in an Oct. 30 email to The Chronicle. 

“As governor, my top priorities will be investing in education for every student, creating good-paying jobs throughout the state and expanding healthcare for Illinois’ families,” Pritkzer said in the email.      

A lawsuit was filed Oct. 17 alleging racial discrimination against the Pritzker campaign. The lawsuit alleged his campaign is a “cesspool of racial discrimination and harassment.”

Prizkter denied the allegation and said if elected governor he would work to make the governor’s office diverse. 

“I believe Illinois’ diversity is an asset to our state, and I am committed to leading an administration that reflects that diversity,” he said in the email. “I will emphasize inclusion as I build a cabinet, make appointments, and engage with stakeholders.”