A Loyola Student's Guide to the Midterm Elections

The 2018 midterm elections are fast approaching, and by this point, you’ve probably heard someone remind you to go vote. However, voting can involve a lot of confusing and overwhelming information. So we’ve compiled everything Loyola students need to know about voting here in Illinois.

But you might ask...why should you vote?

If you sometimes feel as though the world has gone crazy, you are not alone in your thoughts. The national conversation is filled with bickering, name-calling and a general sense of unhappiness. Tensions are high, especially as America’s political climate hurtles into further division.

And amidst such a tumultuous backdrop, it’s busy being a student! Between balancing school, jobs and extracurricular activities, students don’t have much free time. It can be all too easy to sit back and ask if your one vote would really count.

But even if you don’t show up, other people will. To opt out of voting is to opt out of having a say in the politics of our country. When you chose not to vote, you are forfeiting your voice to someone else - someone who may or may not have the same beliefs and ideals.

Okay, but why do the midterm elections matter?

Midterm elections occur every two years, and it is the term used for combined congressional, governor, and local elections. This November, citizens in Illinois will be voting on races for governor and lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, comptroller and treasurer. In each of these, the winner will hold their position for four years before going back up for election. The candidates that voters chose will have tremendous power to shape Illinois politics.

The race for governor has drawn national headlines as the current governor, Republican candidate Bruce Rauner, battles it out with Democratic candidate J.B. Pritzker. Not only will this race heavily impact the state’s stances on issues such as immigration, infrastructure and education, it is also the most expensive gubernatorial race in United States history (with over $267 million raised for campaign expenses and ads so far).

All 18 of Illinois’ congressional seats in the House of Representatives are up for election. These positions are voted on every two years. Currently, the Republican party controls the House, and Democrats will need to gain at least 24 seats to take the majority. In Illinois, Democrats hold 11 out of the 18 representative seats.

In Illinois’ state legislation, there are 39 state senate seats up for election, as well as all 118 state representative seats. Currently, Democrats hold a 37-21 senate majority and a 67-51 representative majority.

According to Vox.com, these state legislation campaigns should not be overlooked. As journalist Dylan Scott says, “Their outcome could determine the fate of abortion rights if the Supreme Court moves to undercut Roe v. Wade, the future of Medicaid expansion in some states, not to mention innumerable other issues like education, taxes, and labor rights.”

Ballotpedia.org, a nonpartisan online political encyclopedia that covers American elections, has listed four congressional districts in particular that should be watched. The Democratic Party have identified the 6th, 12th, 13th and 14th districts as some of their targets this election. All four are currently held by Republican offices.

Finally, there are superintendents offices and judges all over the states that are up for election. To check out if this is true in your district, check the Illinois State Board of Elections.


(Photo courtesy of https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/9/3/17800588/2018-midterm-elections-senate)

Wait, what about Chicago’s mayoral election?

The mayoral election to see who takes over Rahm Emanuel’s office will not take place until Feb. 26, 2019.

How do you register to vote?

To be eligible to vote in the state of Illinois you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old

  • Hold U.S. citizenship

  • Have lived in your voting precinct since at least Oct. 7, 2018

While early registration closed on Oct. 5, Illinois allows same-day-registration. So, if you show up to your correct polling place on election day with two documents of identification, you can register and vote all on Nov. 6!

At least one of the documents you provide must have your current address. Examples can include your driver's license, ID card, bank statement, utility bill, etc.

And, if you don’t qualify to register for this election, the new voter application opens two days after, on Nov. 8. Follow this link to register: https://ova.elections.il.gov/RegistrationClosed.aspx

If you are simply unsure if you are registered or not, you can check here. It is always a good idea to double check.

Where do you go to vote?

Follow this link to find your polling place: https://www.elections.il.gov/votinginformation/pollingplaces.aspx

Who will you be voting for in each race?

It can be difficult to keep all of the candidates and positions straight. However, with so much at stake, it is helpful for each voter to know a little bit about the people they will be voting for.

The Chicago Tribune has compiled a list of the candidates running, individual answers to questions regarding their views and policies, and the Tribune’s own endorsements. You can find this list here.     

If you want more sources/reading: