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2018 Primary Elections Education Guide

In 2018, states will hold Primary Elections from March through September, to determine candidates for the Midterm Elections in November. Use this guide to learn more about the upcoming elections and how you can participate.

What’s On My Ballot? How Do I Decide?

In Illinois
In Other States

Educating Yourself – Illinois

What's on my ballot?

The Illinois Primary Elections will determine the Democratic and Republican Party nominees for the General Election in November for all statewide offices, including Governor and Attorney General, as well as all of Illinois’ Representatives in Congress, all State Representatives and the majority of State Senators, county officials, and more. In Cook County and Chicago, there are also several non-binding referenda, including a question on recreational marijuana (all of Cook County), and questions on gun control, health insurance coverage, and opioid treatment (Chicago only).

To view a sample ballot, enter your address into the Voter Information Search Tools for Evanston (or anywhere in suburban Cook County) or Chicago.

You can also use a resource like BallotReady or Ballotpedia to view your sample ballot and research detailed, nonpartisan information on candidate profiles and positions at the same time.

How can I educate myself? How do I decide who to vote for?

We recommend reviewing candidates’ websites and candidate questionnaires, reading local news articles, and attending or viewing candidate debates and forums before voting.

Use a resource like BallotReady, Ballotpedia, or VoteSmart to research detailed, nonpartisan information on each candidate’s profiles and positions.

Review candidate questionnaires and editorial board endorsements by local news media such as the Chicago Sun Times, the Chicago Tribune, and Chicago Tonight. Also check whether local parties or political organizations you are aware of or involved with have made endorsements. For judges, consider local bar association recommendations.

Do I have to vote for every office on the ballot?

No! If you don’t feel sufficiently informed about a particular office, set of candidates, or issue, you can choose to leave that category blank. This does not invalidate your ballot – your other selections will still be counted.

How can I get more involved?

Consider volunteering for a candidate’s campaign (visit your preferred candidate’s website to learn more) or working as an Election Judge at a polling place in Evanston (or anywhere in suburban Cook County) or Chicago on Election Day.

Sources & Additional Resources

Evanston City Clerk – Registration & Voting Information (Evanston)
Cook County Clerk – Registration & Voting Information (Suburban Cook County)
Chicago Board of Elections – Registration & Voting Information (Chicago)
Illinois State Board of Elections – Registration & Voting Information (Illinois)
BallotReady – Sample Ballots & Voter Guide (Illinois)
Ballotpedia – Sample Ballots & Voter Guide (All 50 States)
VoteSmart.org – Information About Candidates & Referenda (All 50 States)
Vote.org – Registration & Voting Information (All 50 States)
Canivote.org – Registration & Voting Information (All 50 States)
US Vote Foundation – Registration & Voting Information (All 50 States)

Other Questions?

If you have additional questions about registration or voting, please contact your local election authority. You can also stop by the Center for Civic Engagement (1813 Hinman Ave), tweet @NUVotes, Facebook message NU Votes, or email nuvotes@northwestern.edu and we will do our best to assist you.

Educating Yourself – Other States

What's on my ballot?

The upcoming Primary Elections in your state will determine the major party nominees for the General Election in November for a number of national, statewide, and local offices. Depending on your state, this might include US Representatives, US Senators, Governor, State Representatives and Senators, other state and local officials, and referenda.

You can typically view a sample ballot on your local election authority’s website. Or use a resource like BallotReady or Ballotpedia to view a sample ballot and research detailed, nonpartisan information on candidate profiles and positions at the same time.

How can I educate myself? How do I decide who to vote for?

We recommend reviewing candidates’ websites and candidate questionnaires, reading local news articles, and attending or viewing candidate debates and forums before voting.

Use a resource like BallotReady, Ballotpedia, or VoteSmart to research detailed, nonpartisan information on each candidate’s profiles and positions.

Review candidate questionnaires and editorial board endorsements by local newspapers. Also check whether local parties or political organizations you are aware of or involved with have made endorsements. For judges, consider local bar association recommendations.

Do I have to vote for every office on the ballot?

No! If you don’t feel sufficiently informed about a particular office, set of candidates, or issue, you can choose to leave that category blank. This does not invalidate your ballot – your other selections will still be counted.

 

How can I get more involved?

Consider volunteering for a candidate’s campaign (visit your preferred candidate’s website to learn more) or working at a polling place on Election Day (contact your local election authority to learn more).

Sources & Additional Resources

BallotReady – Sample Ballots & Voter Guide (Illinois – Other States to Follow)
Ballotpedia – Sample Ballots & Voter Guide (All 50 States)
VoteSmart.org – Information About Candidates & Referenda (All 50 States)
Vote.org – Registration & Voting Information (All 50 States)
Canivote.org – Registration & Voting Information (All 50 States)
US Vote Foundation – Registration & Voting Information (All 50 States)

Other Questions?

If you have additional questions about registration or voting, please contact your local election authority. You can also stop by the Center for Civic Engagement (1813 Hinman Ave), tweet @NUVotes, Facebook message NU Votes, or email nuvotes@northwestern.edu and we will do our best to assist you.

Please note: The information here was compiled from publicly available sources in an effort to help provide students with non-partisan information that they may need to know in order to register correctly and vote in upcoming elections. Northwestern University does not endorse or oppose any candidate or organization in connection with this or any other political campaign or election. Students are responsible for working with their own local election officials to ensure their own correct registration and to verify local laws and policies about voting in their respective districts.