As a lifelong public servant, I’ve seen it all.
I’ve certainly witnessed the unpleasant side of Illinois politics. But this year, I’ve seen something new: a rising generation stepping up to the plate, ready to usher in real progress. And they’ve got me feeling fired up.
It started this past spring. Seemingly out of nowhere, swarms of young people started calling, emailing, Facebooking and Tweeting at me and my colleagues, urging us to support a bill to create online voter registration in Illinois. They did my heart good.
It was, I soon learned, Chicago Votes, a new organization dedicated to getting young Chicagoans engaged in and excited about the political process.
I am proud that the online voter registration bill, a bill I sponsored, passed. It was Chicago Votes’ first big victory in their crusade to make democracy accessible to young and underrepresented Chicagoans. And I know it won’t be their last.
Some of the Chicago Votes team and I at the Online Voter Reg Bill signing!
This is, however, not just about a single policy. Chicago Votes is an outstanding organization that reminds me of great movements in our past. It was founded by a group of committed young people, who no longer wanted to wait for “their turn” to lead. They’re leading now.
But they can’t do it without our help.
Illinoisans who want progress in our city and state must join together to support the critical work of Chicago Votes.
The very future of our democracy depends upon it.
Thank you for all that you do.
House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie
Hey Chi City—
It’s been a crazy fall, because our little organization is growing!
First, we are on the hunt for a new field genius to join our daily hustle as we approach the March primary election and voter registration deadline.
Second, and just as exciting, we’d like to kindly introduce to you our beautiful new Boards of Directors!
Yes, we’ve got two boards now– just look at all the badassery…
We are way too psyched about having these incredible individuals as part of the Chicago Votes family–and we’ll need them as we start executing our game plan for the year to come. And YOU, we need you too.
So, to recap!
- Can you spread the word and help us find our next field organizer?
- Check out our unbelievably brilliant and dynamic new Boards of Directors!
- Help fuel our movement by being a Boss and giving small monthly donations.
Four score and seven years ago–oh wait, it was actually more like 2008–6 million Americans didn’t vote because they missed a registration deadline or didn’t know how to register.
Here at Chicago Votes, we’re working to change that by organizing what can only be described as the coolest of democracy holidays ever!!!
What is National Voter Registration Day?
On September 24, 2013, volunteers, celebrities and organizations from all over the country will hit the streets for National Voter Registration Day. It’s a day of people coming together to celebrate democracy by registering tons of new voters.
Sound like your type of party? Sign up and join us on National Voter Registration Day to help spread democracy!
Last year, Chicago Votes helped organized hundreds of volunteers and 30+ partner organizations across Illinois who registered more than 7,000 people to vote on this holiday. Thats right, we did it all in ONE day.
In 2013, we want to make sure no one is left out.
We need good samaritans and party people from across Chicago to join us and register thousands of new voters!
Sign up and say that you are committed to registering members of your community, friends and neighbors to vote.
School is starting, and as any true Chicagoan knows, our loving relationship with our weather will soon start to turn. So while dreams of apple picking and pumpkin pie start popping into your mind, let’s take a moment to think about what we’re growing here at Chicago Votes.
For us, it means the start of our fall internship, where we get to flex our muscle in developing Chicago’s next set of Millennial leaders!
I bet you’re asking yourself, “What can I do to help these charming people on their quest to change the world?”
Well, we’re glad you asked!
We are launching what can only be described as:
Chicago Votes is looking for the next generation of leaders
Leaders who want hands-on organizing experience to develop skills so they can have a huge impact, engage their community (be it campus or neighborhood) and change the rest of the world. Yes, THE WORLD! (No pressure.)
If you or someone you know are totally about that “progressive change” life, apply now and pass this along.
It’s hard to believe Chicago Votes is a year old! We’ve come so far–from registering thousands of young voters to taking on (and winning!) the fight for online voter registration in Illinois.
If you love Chicago Votes, share our commitment to a civically engaged Chicago, and want to help pave the path to make sure we keep winning for years to come, we hope you’ll apply to join our Board of Directors for the term of service beginning in September!
Want to get a sense of what we’re looking for in a Board member? Well, aside from being willing and ready to bring delicious snacks to our quarterly meetings and having a deep love for profit & loss statements and bylaws, our ideal new Board family members:
Should reflect the diversity of our city (yep, that means young people, women, people of color, LGBT persons, and people with disabilities are encouraged to apply);
Should be ready and willing to build from their networks to advance our mission– fundraising, hosting events and more;
Should be ready to leave it all on the field to empower young Chicagoans.
- Want more details? Read more here.
Is that you? Yeah, we know it is.
Thanks for believing in Chicago Votes.
Joanna, TJ, Harishi, Courtney, Ilya, Eric, Carlos and Stacey (the 2012 Chicago Votes Board of Directors)
Coming off of the great success of our campaign to make online voter registration in Illinois a reality, we have even more awesome news– After a year of searching our great city to identify the best emerging leaders Chicago has to offer we are thrilled to introduce you to our FIRST class of Democracy Corps fellows.
Welcome Cinthya, Chakena, Christopher, Rufus, Evelyn, Cheswayo, Christine, Evelyn and Scott!
Wow, what a great group! But guess what, these Leaders of Tomorrow can’t change the world all by themselves. They need your help to bring about the change we all wish to see.
So how can you get involved? Well, we have 3 things you can do.
You can start by donating $5 a month and becoming a Boss monthly giver. Your donations go a long way in helping us spread the word on the big issues, getting the materials we need to do our job right, and keeping Chicago Votes on the cutting edge of Illinois progressive organizations. Want to get a little more hands on?
Apply to to be a DemocracyCorps Mentor. These young whippersnappers need the sage advice of you seasoned veterans! Mentors will be invited to special events and trainings and have a chance to really impact the lives our our emerging leaders.
If any of that slipped your mind, here it is again:
Chicago Votes Hails Passage of Online Voter Registration in Illinois
Youth vote organization celebrates opening of Illinois’ democratic process
SPRINGFIELD (May 31, 2013) –Chicago Votes is celebrating the Illinois General Assembly’s approval of legislation establishing online voter registration in the state, saying it will expand civic engagement by younger voters.
The measure was included in an omnibus election law legislation, HB2418, which is on its way to Governor Quinn’s desk after receiving final General Assembly approval on Thursday. The bill also includes a provision requiring establishment of early voting centers on college campuses.
Chicago Votes, a non-partisan non-profit organization dedicated to increasing civic engagement and participation in the democratic process among young voters, organized aggressively around the bill in recent weeks, generating more than 2,000 comments to legislators urging them to vote in favor of the online voter registration measure.
“Online voter registration will help to bring about a new era of civic engagement in Illinois,” said Rebecca Reynolds, Executive Director of Chicago Votes. “When every iPhone, library and computer lab becomes a site for voter registration, we open the doors for a wave of new voters to get registered, get to the polls, and get involved.”
Reynolds thanked coalition partners who worked together with Chicago Votes to fight for online voter registration, including Common Cause Illinois, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Asian Americans Advancing Justice Chicago, Illinois Public Interest Research Groups and others. She also thanked Sen. Don Harmon for his leadership on the issue. “He has been an incredible ally in this effort to make sure the democratic process is accessible to all Illinoisans, young and old.”
“As I did on the Senate floor in urging my colleagues to support HB 2418, I commend Chicago Votes for its strong and effective advocacy on behalf of online voter registration,” said Harmon. “This kind of enthusiasm is vital to the reinvigoration of our democracy by getting more young people to vote. As one who got started in elections and politics in my twenties, I’m encouraged by the activism of Chicago Votes and look forward to collaborating on further election reforms.”
Reynolds and Chicago Votes Board of Directors member Harish Patel published an op-ed in support of online voter registration in the Chicago Tribune earlier Thursday.
For more information on Chicago Votes, please contact Joanna Klonsky at 312-307-0840.
We did it!
After months of strategizing, calling our legislators and organizing online and on the ground, we just heard that the Illinois General Assembly passed a bill to enact online voter registration throughout the state. Now, all that’s left is for Governor Quinn to sign it.
We pulled it off!
Together, thousands of us signed petitions. We called our state reps and senators. We emailed their staffers. We went to their offices. We let ‘em know they needed to vote in favor of online voter registration. You better believe this would not have happened without you.
With your help, Chicago Votes will continue to fight the good fight and further improve our state’s democracy. There’s a lot more work to do.
What happened today is a big deal. Starting in July 2014, any citizen with an Illinois driver’s license will be able to register to vote online. At Chicago Votes, we set out to make participating in the democratic process more accessible for young Chicagoans. This is a major step in that direction.
With lots of love and gratitude,
The Chicago Votes crew