Columbia College Chicago

October 27, 2012

Tips for Chicago voters

Whether you're a first time voter this November, or you've been voting in Chicago for years, we have some tips to help you navigate the Chicago polls this election season.

Where and when

The Chicago Board of Elections offers a quick online tool where you can find your voter registration status, polling place, sample ballot and more:

Enter your street address and last-name to get a map to your polling place, and a sample ballot for your district.

The Board of Elections site also provides a full list of early voting locations and hours.

Sample ballots

Chicago is divided into 50 distinct legislative districts, referred to as city wards. The ward you live in determines which ballot you will see on election day.

To preview a sample ballot from your ward, click on the Sample Ballot tab after finding your voter registration status and polling place on the Board of Elections site:

Download the PDF sample ballot to see exactly which candidates and ballot measures you'll be voting for this election season.

Vetting the candidates

Now that you know who the candidates in your district are, where can you find trust-worthy, non-partisan information about them?

Here are two librarian-approved websites that are a good place to start researching candidates and issues:
  • Project Vote Smart
    This volunteer-driven citizens organization offers access bio's, voting records, interest group ratings, and campaign finance info for every candidate and elected official from President to local government.

    Project Vote Smart also provides an issues overview that lists and details bills and measures currently on the ballot in Illinois.

    This project from the Annenberg Public Policy Center checks and reports the factual accuracy of whatever candidates say in their tv ads, debates, speeches, and in the news.

So many judges, so little time

If you've voted in Chicago before, you're probably already dreading that long list of judges on the ballot.

In the upcoming election, nearly 60 judges are running for retention or re-election. So, how do you know which judges deserve your vote?

Several organizations in Illinois rate and evaluate judges. You can find these evaluations and other information about judicial elections at:

The Committee to Elect Qualified Judges also offers a judicial voting guide formatted for your phone:

Go Vote!

Now you have all the information you need to head to the polls with confidence.

Don't be afraid to print out sample ballots and judicial voting guides and bring them with you into the voting booth.

And, whatever you do, DON'T FORGET TO VOTE!

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