Illinois voters are heading to the polls today to determine who they want to represent them on levels of government, among them Congress, Illinois governor, state representatives, and county offices.
Polls opened across the state at 6 a.m.
Illinois election results:Follow along here as local and statewide results are announced
12:17 a.m. Associated Press: Budzinski carries 13th Congressional District
For the first time in 12 years, Springfield will have a member of the Democratic Party as one of its congressmen.
Nikki Budzinski, a former chief of staff to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and former JB Pritzker advisor, won the race in the 13th Congressional District, defeating Republican Regan Deering, a small business owner and philanthropist.
With 83.4% of votes counted according to the Associated Press, Budzinski leads Deering 54.3% to 45.7%. Budzinski got big majorities in Champaign and St. Clair counties, getting nearly 70% out of the former and 61.3% out of the latter. She also was ahead in Sangamon County, with 51.4% and Madison County with 50.5%. Deering won in rural areas, getting 63.3% in Macoupin County and 61.1% in Piatt County. Macon County is separated by hundreds of votes, with Deering leading Budzinski in that county 50.9% to 49.1%; however, it will likely make no difference.
Budzinski was the favorite to win the minute Illinois legislative Democrats drew the district in order to favor their party; President Joe Biden would have won the district by 11 points had the congressional map been in place in 2020.
Illinois will keep its blue hue for at least another election cycle.
The Associated Press is reporting that Gov. JB Pritzker and U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, both Democrats, have won their respective races, defeating underdog Republican challengers despite a tough year for their party nationally.
The AP called both races just after polls closed at 7 p.m. before votes have been counted in either race. Neither was expected to lose, but Pritzker was under fire by the campaign of Republican challenger Darren Bailey for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and mandates associated with it.
Duckworth earned only a token challenge from Republican Kathy Salvi and was considered one of the safest bets on the board to win for Democrats in what is shaping up to be a challenging evening on many fronts for them nationally.
No other races have been called by the AP yet, including the other constitutional offices, Amendment 1, and other legislative races.
Polls across Illinois are now closed. Persons in line at 7 p.m. will still have a chance to vote.
Check the SJ-R website for election results.
Teresa Haley, president of the Springfield chapter and state conference of the NAACP, said the organization worked with Springfield area churches and Black sororities and fraternities on the “Souls to the Polls” campaign to get people to do early voting and mail-in voting.
The movement didn’t talk about which particular candidates to vote for, but rather “remind people we must vote. People fought, bled and died for us to vote, so if we can encourage people to go as a family, as a congregation to the polls, we found more people who look like me will go out,” Haley said.
Haley said about a dozen branch members served as election judges and poll watchers Tuesday. Haley was a poll watcher.
As state president, Haley said she was on several Zoom calls with colleagues from around the state. While there were some problems in the Chicagoland area with voting machines, Haley said there were no statewide reports of voter intimidation.
Sangamon County voting:More than 1,000 poll workers prepared to maintain election integrity
Ask Robert Nation what kinds of issues he was considering, emerging from Holy City Church where he voted Tuesday, and he will tell you it is an issue every time he goes to the grocery store.
“There are a lot of issues when you go to the store and a piece of meat costs you $27 or a package of hamburger costs you $15,” Nation offered. “Or paying $5 a gallon gasoline. As they always say, ‘Everything goes up except your pay.’
Nation, who voted along with his wife, Dolores, called it “the dirtiest election I ever remember.”
Dolores Nation said she was also tired of “the negative energy” the candidates gave off.
Amy Arcand, who also voted at Holy City, said there weren’t particular issues driving her to the poll Tuesday, but more habit.
One thing Arcand is worried about: getting her 25-year-old daughter out to vote for the first time.
“I vote because I think it’s the right thing to do,” Arcand said.
Polls in Sangamon County close at 7 p.m. You can still vote if you are in line before 7 p.m.
That is the closing time for the two ballot drop boxes at 200 S. Ninth St. and 2201 S. Dirksen Parkway.
Voters can sometimes be a fickle bunch, so, yes, Election Day weather can be a factor for turnout.
“It’s been gorgeous weather throughout the early voting process in advance of Election Day,” said Sangamon County Clerk Don Gray, “and that does play into the overall scenario for participation, so it’s nice to see that we have a great day.”
Election Day voters were greeted with clear conditions and temperatures in the low 60s.
Tuesday marks the first time Election Day has been a holiday in Illinois. Gov. JB Pritzker signed a bill in June 2021 establishing the holiday temporarily. Now, 19 states have some form of Election Day holiday.
That means state and county workers had the day off, as did area schools.
Whether that is a factor for brisk voting traffic Tuesday is a possibility, but Gray believes that theory needs to be tested a little more with future elections.
Whatever the reasons, the Springfield Masonic Center was one of the polling places that had to request more polling booths, six to be exact, Gray confirmed. Three precincts — Capital 42, 66 and 80 — vote at the center.
Chris Bennett of Springfield is a state worker, but Tuesday found him in another role at Triad Industrial Supply Corp. in the 2700 block of South 13th Street: an election official.
Bennett worked the June 28 primary in a similar capacity, though he hadn’t done it for a few years.
“My motivation (to work as an election official) was dispel the myth that your vote isn’t safe,” Bennett said. “You can’t criticize the process unless you have been part of the process.”
Bennett knows there are skeptics out there, but “people’s votes here are secure and counted like they should be.”
With it being Election Day, your social media feed is likely inundated with photos of people at the polls or dawning a “I voted” sticker. What should not be showing up there, however, are photos or videos of respective ballots.
The matter came to attention after a Tik Tok by Riley Craig, Attorney General Thomas DeVore’s girlfriend, showed her circling in her votes for Republican candidates on her Bond County ballot. As of 1 p.m. on Tuesday, the video had garnered more than 285,000 views.
Matt Dietrich, public information officer with the Illinois State Board of Elections, advises voters to not do this as it violates the Illinois election code.
To his knowledge, no one has ever been prosecuted for taking a ballot selfie but still sees a photo of a sticker as a better option.
Reports Tuesday that Champaign County clerk’s office had been the apparent target of cyber attacks was a cautionary reminder to Sangamon County Clerk Don Gray.
Champaign has been dealing with connectivity and server performance on Tuesday.
The clerk’s office website has been the target of attacks over the past month, but its IT team has been successful in preventing the attacks and the clerk’s website has remained secure.
“This is something we take seriously. It’s a big part of who we are in election administration,” said Gray, who talked to the clerk in Champaign, Aaron Ammons, on Tuesday.
Gray said Sangamon County was not experiencing any troubles like Champaign, though the clerk’s office there was “differently structured” than here.
“(Champaign) is fully electronic,” Gray said. “He’s having connection problems from his resources in the polling places to process voters.”
“We’re not experiencing anything (critical) here, but we’re going to keep an eye on it.”
At Westminster Presbyterian Church, registrar Jan Van Qualen said turnout was steady and felt that it was satisfactory for a midterm election.
“For a midterm, it’s good turnout,” Van Qualen said. “It’s quite subjective, though.”
Voters streaming out of the church’s main hall said they felt the process was smooth.
Paul Diezman said voting is among the most important things a citizen can do. He put an emphasis on affirming the work that Gov. JB Pritzker did in running the state over his first four years.
“I like what the governor’s been doing,” Diezman said. “I was really looking at retaining our governor.”
Amber and Tony Lozzi brought their children, Aurelia and Henry, with them to Westminster where they voted. Amber said she was focused on voting to protect abortion rights in Illinois, as she was concerned about a potential nationwide abortion ban from a Republican Congress.
“As a woman, the chance of a nationwide abortion ban is absolutely horrifying,” Amber said. “That’s something where I’m definitely voting with that in mind, not just for myself, but for my kids and all future generations.”
Tony agreed with Amber, saying it was unreasonable to vote for people who would vote to take that right away. In addition, he said he was focused on Amendment 1, which would enshrine various labor rights in the Illinois Constitution. Amber said they wanted to vote for candidates who would have the best interests of everyone in mind.
“In general, (I want to) make sure that we’re voting with all humans’ best rights in mind and making sure that we choose officials that genuinely work in our best interests and not for the select few,” Amber said.
Nikki Budzinski spent her day on the trail with the intention of hitting seven counties in her district stretching from Metro East to Champaign. Her day is set to conclude in Springfield, where she will be holding a watch party at the Hoogland Center For the Arts.
One of her stops included Decatur, which is where Budzinski’s Republican opponent Regan Deering started her day by casting her vote.
Deering told reporters at the Macon County Office Building that she was confident in a successful election and was ready to be a force of change in Washington.
“I think this is going to be a very close race,” she said. “It was clearly mapped for a Democrat, but we have shown up and worked hard and the people of central Illinois are ready for someone who is going to work for them.”
First, messages from the two major gubernatorial candidates to get out the vote:
Now, from the Senate candidates:
Shortly after the polls opened at Union Baptist Church on Springfield’s east side, Sangamon County Clerk Don Gray said he was encouraged by early voting turnout. He said he believes between 65% to 70% of the county’s registered voters will cast ballots.
“We’ve got a lot of local contests that are garnering attention between the 13th Congressional District (for the U.S. House of Representatives) (and) the 48th (Illinois) Senate District,” Gray said. “There’s been a lot of money spent and people are certainly aware that there’s an election. (It’s) reflected in the increase in early voting and I hope to see that same momentum here on election day.”
According to Gray, 24,290 people cast their ballots early, whether it was through mail voting or at the clerk’s office in the Sangamon County Complex. More than 16,000 mail ballots have arrived at Gray’s office, with 3,675 of those ballots still outstanding.
The expectation for Gray is that 105,000-108,000 ballots are cast by 7 p.m., when the counting process begins. Early and mail votes will be counted before any precinct votes.
Gray thinks the process should be rather quick, with counting finished by 10 p.m. at the latest.
To help with smoothing out the process, Gray has enlisted more than 1,000 poll workers and has trained them in order to make the voting process comfortable for everyone.
“We train them in advance of every election, not just once every two years,” Gray said. “We have video courses, in-person courses, we give them manuals (and) highlights of things specific to the election that we are in now. Everything you can think of, we go through and that’s really a critical piece of having a well-run, successful election.
Working alongside the dedicated poll workers were a few poll watchers checking in to see how things were going. Irma Cooper was working as an observer for the very first time and admitted that she was nervous and “in the line of fire”. Even so, she was excited to get to see the process and to cast her ballot for the candidates she felt had her best interests in mind.
“I just wanted to get my feet wet to see what they do,” Cooper said. “If your number doesn’t count, it’s not going to count to make decisions in the things that you are favorable for.”
It’s 6 a.m. Election Day and the polls are open.
Voting ends at 7 p.m.
We’ll be providing live results at sj-r.com/elections/results/local throughout the night.
You can register in-person at the county clerk’s office on Election Day.
Voters need two forms of identification to register, both must show the voter’s name and at least one must have the voter’s current address. Most voters can use a state ID card or driver’s license and a credit card or utility bill. Voters can use their phones to provide identification, such as by pulling up their electricity or gas utility account information.
Voters do not need to provide identification but must be registered to vote in the county where they live.
Voters can report to their precinct voting location on Nov. 8. To find out your precinct, check the back of your voter’s registration card, the state’s elections website, or call the county clerk.
Mailed ballot can be returned by U.S. Postal Service but they must be postmarked by Nov. 8 and received no later than two weeks after Tuesday.
They also can be returned by using one of the secure ballot drop boxes on the south end of the County Building at Ninth and Monroe streets or at the Sangamon County Juvenile Detention Center, 2201 S. Dirksen Parkway.
A mailed ballot also can be hand delivered to the clerk’s office.
In Sangamon County, if you have problems or questions about voting, call (217) 753-8683 or go to the clerk’s website at www.sangamoncountyclerk.com/elections.