Oct 21, 2022 - Politics

Midterm elections 2022: Voting in Illinois

Illustration of a white podium changing into a voting booth and then changing into three campaign signs, over a divided red and blue background.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Illinois' midterm ballot features several big statewide races — including governor, attorney general and U.S. Senate — as well as important ballot measures.

Why it matters: The 2022 election will determine whether the Democrats remain in control of the governor's mansion and the Illinois Supreme Court.

  • And ballot measures could create new taxes and constitutional changes.
Voting in Illinois
  • Active registered voters can request a mail-in ballot until Nov. 3. Online voter registration ends Oct. 23.
  • In-person early voting is now open and runs through Nov. 7.
  • All ballots are due by 7pm Nov. 8.

Be smart: Chicago has reduced the number of voting locations by about 10% since the June primary.

Governor: JB Pritzker (D) vs. Darren Bailey (R)
Illustration of J.B. Pritzker, tinted blue, and Darren Bailey, tinted red, separated by a white halftone divider.
Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photos: Natasha Moustache/Getty Images and Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Incumbent Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker is pitted against Republican state Sen. Darren Bailey.

Driving the news: The race revolves around hot-button issues including COVID-19 mitigation, reproductive rights and Chicago crime.

  • But it also highlights the state's rural-urban divide.

Meet the candidates: Pritzker is seeking a second term after winning the 2018 race against incumbent Republican Bruce Rauner. The 57-year-old Chicagoan was previously a businessman, philanthropist and fundraiser for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

  • Bailey, 56, is from downstate and has served in the state House.
  • He owns a family farm and is president of the board of directors at Full Armor Christian Academy in his hometown of Louisville, Illinois.

Where they stand: Given the U.S. Supreme Court's Dobbs decision in June, abortion has emerged as a major issue in the race.

  • Pritzker is touting his record on making Illinois one of the strongest states for reproductive rights.
  • Bailey opposes abortion but has stopped short of pushing for changes, saying repeatedly that it is "settled law."

Between the lines: Pritzker has tried to make this race about reproductive rights and paint his opponent as a far-right extremist. Bailey has focused on crime and violence in Chicago.

Illinois ballot: Other major races
Photo illustration of Alexi Giannoulias, tinted blue, and Dan Brady, tinted red, separated by a white halftone divider.
Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photos: Brian Kersey/Getty Images, and courtesy the campaign of Dan Brady

Secretary of state: Retiring Democrat Jesse White has held this office since 1999.

Illustration of AG Kwame Raoul , tinted blue, and Thomas DeVore, tinted red, separated by a white halftone divider.
Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photos: Alex Wong/Getty Images and Chicago Tribune via Getty Images

Attorney general: Incumbent Kwame Raoul (D) vs. Thomas DeVore (R)

The biggest issue in this race is the upcoming implementation of the Pre-Trial Fairness Act, which will end cash bail in Illinois.

  • Raoul was one of the architects of recent criminal justice reform packages, including during his time in the state Senate.
  • DeVore is an attorney who opposes this change to the bail system. He's also sued the state and Raoul's office repeatedly, including suits over COVID mask mandates.
Photo illustration of Christine Tammy Duckworth, tinted blue, and Kathy Salvi , tinted red, separated by a white halftone divider.
Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photos: U.S. Senate Photographic Studio and courtesy of the campaign of Kathy Salvi

U.S. Senate: Tammy Duckworth (D) vs. Kathy Salvi (R)

  • The incumbent Duckworth is from Hoffman Estates and served in the U.S. House before being elected senator in 2016.
  • Salvi is a former Lake County assistant public defender from Mundelein, Illinois. The attorney is running on smaller government and issues over border security.
Illinois Supreme Court

With two seats up for grabs, the state GOP could wrest away the Democratic majority. That could mean revisiting big issues like reproductive rights.

State of play: The court, which has seven justices serving 10-year terms, currently has a 4-3 Democratic majority.

  • Illinois is one of only eight states that elect state Supreme Court justices.
  • The IL GOP has not held majority control of the court since 1969.

The latest: Republican Supreme Court Justice Michael Burke was appointed in 2020 in the 3rd District after the retirement of Justice Robert Thomas, making this his first election.

  • Appellate Court Justice Mary Kay O'Brien, a Democrat, is challenging him.

Zoom in: O'Brien is using ads to attack Burke over abortion rights, but Burke's camp wants a retraction because he hasn't publicly stated a position.

Photo illustration of Elizabeth Rochford, tinted blue, and Mark Curran, tinted red, separated by a white halftone divider.
Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photos: Courtesy of the campaigns of Mark Curran and Elizabeth Rochford

In the 2nd Supreme Court District, former Lake County Sheriff Michael Curran (R) and Lake County Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Rochford (D) are vying for the seat vacated by Justice Tom Kilbride, who was not retained by voters in 2020.

The intrigue: Republicans are going back to the Madigan era by accusing Rochford (and O'Brien) of being part of the corrupt Mike Madigan machine, even though he hasn't been in office since early 2021.

  • It's very rare to see political ads attacking two candidates together from separate races, but it's happening on both sides.
Illinois 2022 ballot questions
Illustration of the Illinois State Capitol building with lines radiating from it.
Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

The midterm ballot has two big questions this year: one on workers' rights and another on increasing Cook County Forest Preserve funding.

Forest Preserve referendum: The measure proposes increasing property taxes .025% to protect, expand and maintain Cook County Forest Preserves.

  • Currently less than 1% of the property tax revenue goes to the preserves.

What they're saying: A coalition of supporters says the tax increase would amount to "less than $1.66/month for the vast majority of homeowners."

  • The measure would also add 3,000 acres of preserve and help the Forest Preserve pension obligations.

The other side: Although few welcome higher property taxes, this proposal has met little opposition.

Workers' rights amendment: Another aims to make the right to collective bargaining permanent as part of the Illinois Constitution.

What they're saying: Advocates include the Illinois Federation of Teachers, which says the amendment would "guarantee the right of workers to bargain for safe working conditions, fair pay, and benefits."

The other side: The Illinois Policy Institute argues that the ballot question should be about reforming pensions, not raising taxes.

  • It also argues that giving unions permanent bargaining rights would result in higher property taxes to pay public workers.
Retaining Illinois judges
Illustration of a gavel with arrows and abstract shapes.
Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Details: With control of the Illinois Supreme Court in play, this may be one of the most consequential judicial voting years yet.

  • And the election could get even hotter with a recent ruling that struck down contribution limits on judicial races.

Here are four judicial recommendation lists from across the political spectrum.

More midterm elections news from Axios:

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