We are changin’ laws and building a more inclusive democracy.

Voting Rights Legislation

Online Voter Registration

House Bill 2148 passed in 2012

Letting people register to vote online is a no-brainer which is why we helped to pass online voter registration!

Same Day Voter Registration

House Bill 105 passed in 2014

Same Day Voter Registration allows eligible Illinois residents to register and vote at the same time on Election Day. Every voter who wants to join in the democratic process should be able to and arbitrary registration deadlines shouldn’t bar people from participating.

Extended Grace Period Voting

Senate Bill 172 passed in 2015

Hate long lines? Us too. Chicago Votes helped to pass Early Voting, giving voters extra time to hit the polls. If voters missed the voter reg deadline, they can now register and vote during Grace Period Voting.

Automatic Voter Registration

Senate Bill 1933 passed in 2017

When eligible to voters interact with a government agency, they will now be asked if they would like to opt- out of automatically being registered to vote. This transition from our current opt- in system automatically register voters through the Secretary of State’s office.

Voting in Jails

Senate Bill 2090 passed in 2019

Senate Bill 2090 ensures voters who are eligible and incarcerated have access to the ballot. The legislation also provides voter education and voter registration form to people in the re-entry process. Cook County Jail will be the first jail in the country to become an official polling location. Mark your calendar for March 2020!

Civics in Prison

House Bill 2541 passed in 2019

House Bill 2541 passed with bipartisan support. The Civics in Prison bill brings peer-taught civics educations to the Illinois Department of Corrections

Voter Empowerment Pledge

In 2015, after the General Assembly passed our historical election reforms we thought more should be done to lower voting barriers, modernize elections, and encourage participation in our democracy. We asked voters to sign a voter empowerment pledge for voter registration, language access, and pre-registration at 16. None of these bills became law but we definitely got people to think further about what an inclusive democracy means.

  • 12 More Days of Online Voter Registration: It’s like the 12 days of x-mas but for democracy. Senate Bill 1265 extends the time that Online Voter Registration (OVR) is available.
  • Ballots that speak to everyone: Making sure ballots are translated so everyone can understand the choices they are making at the polls. House Bill 1452 provides more access to translated ballots.
  • Allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote: Getting folks registered and engaged early is key to long-term civic health in our state. House Bill 3368 allows 16- and 17-year-old’s to pre-register to vote. Pre-registered young people stay registered longer and vote at higher rates.

Issue Campaigns

Elected Representative School Board

2014

At Chicago Votes, we think the Chicago Public Schools Board of Education members should be elected. Unlike every other school district in the state, school board members in Chicago are appointed by the mayor, instead of elected by the public. We believe the school board should be elected directly by the public, so they’re accountable to us when making decisions about school funding, closings and more.

STOP Act Ordinance

2015

We believe data transparency is essential for police accountability. The STOP Act requires CPD to collect and share to the public, data on the location, reason, result, and demographic information for all individuals stopped and or/frisked.

Raise the Wage

2016

Most workers’ wages haven’t increased with the rising cost of living, especially in super expensive cities like Chicago. We need to ensure that workers are paid fairly for their work, so that they and their families don’t have to struggle to pay their bills. Thus, we are all about that fight for $15.

Adult Use Cannabis

2019

Chicago Votes believes in the equitable legalization of cannabis. So, we worked with the Cannabis Equity Coalition to pass the most equitable, recreational, adult-use cannabis bill in the country.

Measuring Success

We evaluate our overall work by a triple bottom-line: immediate results, medium-term altering of the political landscape, and the development of new leaders for the long-term.

We place an ongoing emphasis on measuring results and tracking progress within these goals. In order to measure the results of the work conducted we analyze the scope of our work through analyzing the following: (1) Reach; the number of people touched by the work and (2) Impact; the lasting repercussions of our work in the city and beyond. We believe both are necessary to successfully advance our mission to increase civic engagement among young people in the City of Chicago

In March 2020, Cook County Jail served as the first official polling location inside of a jail in the country. Over 1,500 voters detained in Cook County Jail cast a ballot, 600 of which utilizes Same Day Voter Registration.

There are 4 million people in Illinois with a previous criminal record. Roughly 80% do not know they have the right to vote. The passage of House Bill 2541 ensures every person who goes through the re-entry process will be given a voter registration form and peer-taught civics education.

There are approximately 20,000 people detained in jail pre-trial in Illinois. Those who are citizens have the right to vote in elections. Senate Bill 2090 sets up systems to ensure people detained can vote.

Due in part to our outreach and work on police accountability, Chicago saw an 80% decrease in the number of stop and frisk instances when Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced reforms to provide data transparency regarding Stop and Frisk a week after we held a press conference in city hall with We Charge Genocide.

Our advocacy efforts contributed to a victory in passing Senate Bill 250 for automatic voter registration through the Illinois general assembly, which could add 2 million eligible citizens to the voter rolls in Illinois.

We have surveyed almost 8,000 young people to identify which issues matter the most to youth in Chicago.

Chicago Votes has collected over 15,000 pledge to vote cards after having thousands of conversations in the field on the importance of voting.

Illinois saw 80% of newly registered voters for the 2016 primary election happen through online voter registration.

An estimated 40,000 voters registered using Same Day Voter Registration on election day in early 2016.

We have added over 30,000 new, young voters to the voter rolls since 2012.