As polls opened at 6 a.m. Tuesday throughout Illinois, the highest profile contest on the ballot may be over who’ll occupy the Oval Office for the next four years. But the election intrigue doesn’t stop at the White House.
Illinois’ top local issue centers on whether the state should amend its constitution to overhaul its tax code from a flat tax to a graduated-rate system. Voters also will decide whether Dick Durbin, the second ranking Democrat in the U.S. Senate, should get a fifth term. And there are elections involving the state’s 18 congressional seats, including the reelection bids of suburban Democratic freshmen Sean Casten and Lauren Underwood.
Meanwhile, all 118 Illinois House seats are up for election, as well as nearly one-third of the state Senate’s membership.
In Cook County, first-term Democratic State’s Attorney Kim Foxx is facing a challenge from Republican Pat O’Brien.
As of Monday, more than 3.5 million voters had already cast ballots across Illinois — a tally split nearly evenly between those voting in person early and those returning a mail-in ballot, with a voter turnout more than 43% for the state even before polls opened.
Delays in ballot counting are possible, and there also is expected to be a heavy in-person voting presence Tuesday among traditionalists who insist on casting a ballot on Election Day. Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday urged patience regarding the counting of ballots.
“It will possibly take until Wednesday, or Thursday, or even Friday to get results for some races in Illinois and in states across the country,” Pritzker said at his daily coronavirus news briefing Monday. “Every vote must be counted, particularly on the national level. It is very important that we are patient with the presidential election. We may very well not know who won the election on Wednesday, let alone Tuesday night.”
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Editor’s note: What to expect on Election Day, and beyond
The Associated Press will declare winners in some 7,000 races. Here’s how the AP counts votes and calls races.
Here’s what to do if you are voting in person in Illinois.
Here are the latest election updates from across the Chicago area and Illinois:
5:55 a.m. Chicago Board of Elections chair says agency is ready for Election Day
At the beginning of Election Day, Marisel Hernandez, chairwoman of the Board of Election Commissioners, said she’s expecting a great turnout for this presidential election.
The Board of Elections has been preparing since March to arrange larger voting sites and adjust to the coronavirus pandemic so voters could cast their ballot safely, she said.
“We’ve been planning for a larger turnout because presidential elections historically have a larger turnout,” Hernandez said. “We’ve been planning just to give voters a good experience, and a transparent experience.”
Standing under the Michael Jordan Statue inside the United Center, 1901 W. Madison St., Hernandez spoke about the significance of having the city’s basketball arena open on Election Day.
For the first time in the arena’s history, the United Center served as a voting site. It’s one of the city’s two “super-sites,” which means all Chicago residents can vote there, and same-day registration is available.
Along with other polling places, both the United Center and the other city super site, located at 191 N. Clark St., were scheduled to close at 7 p.m. on Election Day, baring snafus. Those in line when the polls close will still be able to vote.
“It’s an iconic Chicago symbol,” Hernandez said about the United Center. “It’s a symbol of who we are and how strong Chicagoans are. How united we are. And so, all of that will be reflected in the voters who come out today. We’re strong; we’re united, we’re a team.”
All Chicago voting sites will be following all federal and state public health guidelines, Hernandez said.
“We have available for the voter’s masks, hand gel, we will have disinfectant wipes, we will have socially distant spacing. We have put into place everything possible to keep voters and our workers safe.”
— Javonte Anderson
5:29 a.m. Against a backdrop of pandemic, civil unrest and charged political rhetoric, it’s Election Day in Illinois and across the country.
Illinois voters who didn’t cast an early or mail-in ballot go to the polls Tuesday to wrap up a contentious political season complicated by pandemic restrictions that have forced them to largely watch from afar.
Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. with weather forecast to be unusually mild for early November, with temperatures in Chicago predicted to be near 60 degrees and nearing 70 degrees downstate.
Election Day will bring an end to the thousands of TV ads, costing tens of millions of dollars, that have aired almost incessantly since September for candidates and a major ballot issue.
But it may take some time for the votes to be counted and there’s no guarantee results will be quickly available in key races. Nor is the election likely to put to rest the ongoing potential for social discontent and violence in what has been a year of civil unrest — the combustible byproduct of a charged presidential campaign, policing incidents in Black communities and restrictions resulting from COVID-19.
Read the full story here. — Rick Pearson
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