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Illinois

Democrats are fighting to retain control amid pressure from the GOP

A tight election season that has bombarded voters with tens of millions of dollars in largely negative advertising ends Tuesday, when voters head to the polls to decide the races for the U.S. Senate, governor, state offices and each congressional and state legislature, as well as the proposal change the state constitution.

Polls on Election Day open at 6am and close at 7pm, and anyone who was in line when they closed is still eligible to vote. The weather forecast for the Chicago area calls for partly sunny skies with temperatures in the high 50s with light winds and no rain.

The campaigns, launched more than a year and a half ago in the new wave of the COVID-19 option, have engaged voters on a range of issues, from pandemic mitigation to crime and civil justice, taxes and fiscal prudence, jobs, union support, abortion and LGBTQ rights. on an inflationary economy create a comprehensive referendum on governance at the ballot box.

Also at stake was the role of Illinois voters in determining the party composition of the US House of Representatives in contests related to 17 new constituencies as well as what the majority party will be in the US Senate.

As of early Monday, the Illinois State Election Commission said nearly 1.2 million of the state’s more than 8.7 million registered voters had cast early ballots either by mail or at in-person voting sites. With one day to go, that’s down from 2018, when more than 1.56 million voted early and mailed in their ballots. However, the number of mail-in ballots returned in 2022 increased compared to 2018, with more than 544,000 returned this year, compared to 427,000 in 2018.

In Chicago, 237,219 ballots had been cast, both by mail and in person, for early voting as of Sunday night, about 37,000 fewer than the same period in 2018, the Chicago Board of Elections said.

But in parts of Chicago on Monday, voters waited in line, sometimes for hours, to cast their ballots.

Early voters line up along West Belmont Avenue outside the precinct at the Merle Library branch in the 44th District on Nov. 7, 2022.

At an early voting precinct in the 44th District, a line of voters stretched down Belmont Avenue and turned the corner onto North Broadway. Site administrator Vito Cifaldi said the wait at the Merle library was about 2 1/2 hours and that the lines had been long for the past three days.

On Sunday, poll workers stayed open until 7:30 p.m. to accommodate voters who lined up before the early polls were scheduled to close at 4 p.m., Cifaldi said. Most voters were sympathetic, Cifaldi said.

Nicolette Brick, a 28-year-old Lakeview resident, was hoping to beat the election day rush and waited in line for an hour Monday. But she eventually gave up.

“I think I’ll try again tomorrow,” she said.

One factor complicating Election Day in Chicago is the redistricting of many precincts relocation of polling stations. Voters who wish to come to the polling station on election day must come to the designated location. Besides, everyone 51 early voting locations in Chicago will be opened as voting centers on Tuesday, and Chicago voters can vote at any of them, regardless of where they live in the city.

“I think it’s a big boost. People understand how important this election is on many levels,” Maricel Hernandez, chairwoman of the Chicago Board of Elections, said Monday. “I really think people are going to come out and I think we’re going to beat 2018.”

Early voting took place at the Chicago Super Site at 191 N. Clark St. on November 7, 2022.

Voters who vote by mail must get their mail-in ballots and postmark them by the end of the day Tuesday so they can be counted, or they can return them to ballot collection boxes or drop them off to vote in person, she said.

It was the 2022 general election season truncated as a result of the decision by Democrats who control the governor’s office and the General Assembly to delay the traditional March primary until June 28 to await the pandemic-delayed federal census numbers used to redraw congressional and legislative district boundaries every decade.

But the delayed deadlines have not changed the state’s heavy spending in recent years, mostly in the gubernatorial campaign, where billionaire involvement has led to more than a quarter of a billion dollars in primary spending.

Democratic governor J. B. Pritzker, a first-term incumbent, has poured more than $150 million of his personal money into his re-election campaign fund, while conservative megadonor Richard Uhlein has given $52 million to support Pritzker’s GOP challenger, state Sen. Darren Bailey , in primaries and general elections. billionaire Ken Griffin, who moved his Citadel investment firm from Chicago to Miami, spent $50 million on Aurora Mayor Richard Irwin, who finished third in his bid to become the GOP gubernatorial primary.

Ahead of the final day of voting, politicians traveled across the state to rallies in search of last-minute votes as the number of undecided and undecided voters dwindled.

Pritzker was on a multi-city tour of the state with other Democratic candidates running for re-election, with stops that included union halls in Marion, Peoria, Springfield, Rockford and the Quad Cities. Also joining him at many of the stops was first-term U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who is seeking re-election against Republican Kathy Salvi of Mundelein.

Official voter John Parker, left, helps LaMontreale Hale file his ballot during early voting at the South Side YMCA on Nov. 7, 2022, in Chicago.

Also part of the entourage was Illinois AFL-CIO President Tim Drea, who called for support a proposed amendment to the state constitution at the top of the ballot, which would enshrine collective bargaining rights in the state’s governing document.

Bailey, a state senator from Xenia, held a news conference in Oak Brook with Republican attorney general nominee Tom DeVore and planned a rally in Merionette Park that evening.

Other important races on the ballot include suburban congressional contests pitting two-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Sean Kasten of Downers Grove against Republican Keith Peckau, mayor of Orland Park in the 6th District; Two-term U.S. Democratic candidate Lauren Underwood of Naperville against Republican Scott Grider of Oswego, chairman of the Kendall County Board, in the 14th District; and veteran Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Foster of Naperville vs. Catalina Lauf of Woodstock.

Also at stake are two Illinois Supreme Court seats outside of Cook County that could determine whether Democrats retain the majority on the court they’ve held since the 1960s. In the new north 2nd District, Democrat Elizabeth Rochford is facing Republican Mark Curran, and in the new south 3rd District, appointed Republican incumbent Michael Burke is being challenged by Democrat Mary Kay O’Brien.

All 177 seats in the General Assembly — 118 in the House of Representatives and 59 in the Senate — are also up for election, and the election will decide whether Democrats hold their own. a non-veto supermajority over Republicans in both chambers.

In an era of election anxiety, Chicago officials say they haven’t seen an increase threats from other electoral jurisdictions seen all over the country. But they will continue to “closely monitor every aspect of this election process,” Hernandez said.

Chicago voters who experience any irregularities on Election Day should call the City Council’s central hotline at 312-269-7870, spokesman Max Bever said. Voters can also find out where their polling place is by calling the hotline or visiting Chicago website of the election commission.

Representatives of the State Election Commission also warned people to beware of disinformation on social media, which may be aimed at voter suppression. If voters encounter irregularities at their polling station, they should report it to an election judge and then report it to local election authorities, officials said. Illinoisans can also email scamalert@election.il.gov or call 217-782-4141 to report any violations to state election officials.

The Illinois Attorney General’s Office will monitor the election with more than 170 teams of assistant attorneys general and investigators. According to the news release, voters who experience suspected impropriety or illegal activity in Chicago and northern Illinois can call 1-866-536-3496, and voters in central and southern Illinois can call 1-866-559- 6812.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois will also operate an Election Day hotline for voting-related complaints at 312-469-6157.

Freelance reporter Kinsey Crowley contributed.

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jsheridan@chicagotribune.com

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