News Local/State

Illinois Votes For President, Congressional, State & Local Offices

Campaign signs lined  up outside the entrance to the Champaign County Clerk's office in Urbana.

Campaign signs are lined up outside the entrance of the Champaign County Clerk's Office in the Brookens Center in Urbana on Election Day Travis Stansel / Illinois Public Media

Election Day, November 8th is finally here, and the polls are open in Illinois from 6 A-M until 7 P-M.  Even if you're not registered to vote, you can now do that on Election Day in Illinois --- although voters in smaller counties without electronic vote tallying will have to go to their main election office to do so.

Illinois primary voters' top picks for president on both sides of the aisle -- Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump -- made it to the top of the ballot. Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein are also on the presidential ballot in Illinois. Whoever wins the state will score a sizable 20 Electoral College votes on the quest to 270.

Senate Race Dominates Illinois Congressional Election

Another statewide contest will help determine whether Democrats seize control of the U.S. Senate from Republicans. GOP U.S. Senator Mark Kirk is trying to stave off a challenge from suburban Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth. The ballot also includes Green Party candidate Scott Summers and Libertarian candidate Kent McMillen.

While each of Illinois' 18 Congressional seats are on the ballot, there are only a few contested races.

When it comes to the state legislature, Republicans -- well-funded by Gov. Bruce Rauner -- are trying to cut into Democrats' supermajorities. How a couple dozen competitive races turn out could have ramifications on the budget battles expected ahead. Many of those contests are viewed as proxy wars between Rauner and the longtime Democratic Speaker of the Illinois House, Michael Madigan.

One race even has a Michael Madigan on the ballot, although in this case, Michael P. Madigan of Urbana is the Republican candidate for state Senate in the 52nd District, running against incumbent Democrat Scott Bennett of Champaign, who’s seeking a full term after being appointed to the seat in 2015.

In another contested legislative race, State Rep. Reggie Phillips (R-Charleston) is running for a 2nd term against challenger Dennis Malak (D-Charleston).

But the matchup that best fits the proxy war description is the special election for comptroller.

Rauner handpicked businesswoman Leslie Munger to fill a vacancy two years ago.

Voters will decide whether Munger should keep the job for another two years, or whether Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza -- a former state representative -- should get it. Libertarian Claire Ball and Green Party ballot Tim Curtin are also on the ballot.

Referendums Abound

Voters will also decide whether to amend Illinois' constitution so that road funding gets a special priority, barring the state from using transportation-related tax revenue such as the motor fuel tax for any other purpose. But that proposed amendment is just the start of the referendums that Illinois voters are deciding on today. Many more local questions are on the ballot across the state.

In east-central Illinois, there are school bond referendums on the ballot in the Champaign and Paxton Buckley Loda school districts.

Champaign’s Unit Four district is making its third try, with a proposed bond issue that is larger than previous ones, and covers more school buildings.

This time, the  Unit Four referendum promises to keep Champaign Central High School at its current location, instead of moving it north, as previous referendums would have done.

The Paxton-Buckley-Loda bond proposal would demolish one of the district’s elementary schools, and build an addition to its other one.

Meanwhile, voters in the Maroa-Forsyth district will vote on a property tax increase.

Voters in Coles, Macon and Champaign counties will vote on new sales taxes --- a one-cent tax for countywide school facilities in Coles County, a quarter-cent increase in Macon County’s public safety tax, and a quarter-cent tax for county facilities in Champaign County --- most controversially for jail renovations.

Champaign County also has rival questions on county governance --- one creating an elected county executive -- the other making the current county board chair’s post an elected one.

And in Rantoul, voters will decide if they want to dissolve the Rantoul Park District. The district spends the majority of its tax dollars on operating Brookhill Golf Course. Backers of the referendum hope dissolving the park district and transferring park district properties to village government will lead to the closure or sale of the money-losing golf course.