The Chicago Votes Monthly: Elections, Events, & More!

Sh*t just got serious! Illinois’ March Primary elections are in full swing now through Election Day, March 19th. In addition to the U.S. President, state and federal lawmakers, judges, Cook County State’s Attorney, and other local races, Chicagoans will be voting on Ballot Measure 1

Ballot measure 1, known to many as Bring Chicago Home, asks voters if they would like to create a stream of funds to alleviate homelessness by increasing the one-time sales tax called a “Real Estate Transfer Tax” on million-dollar properties and up. Learn more about the ballot measure in our voter guide at

Our 2024 Primary Voter Guide also includes a State’s Attorney Questionnaire where we asked all four candidates the following questions: 

  1. How will you use your discretion under the Pre-Trial Fairness Act to Request Detention?
  2. Under the current Foxx Administration, retail thefts under $1000 are not prosecuted as a felony, but as a misdemeanor. Will your administration keep this same threshold or revert to the $300 threshold?
  3. How will your office grow the investment of the Conviction Review Unit work?
  4. A study that analyzed more than 4.6 million traffic stops over 19 years in Chicago, found Black drivers were 6x more likely to be stopped by police in Chicago. How will your office effectively reduce gun violence without simply relying on racially targeted traffic stops?
  5. What is the State’s Attorney’s role in addressing the root causes of violence, and preventing harm before it happens?

That is just the start. This month, Chicago Votes has one event after another. If you’re in a hurry, here are the highlights: 

  • You’re invited to a night of ballot info and outfit inspo! RSVP for the #GiveASh*t Fashion Show & Happy Hour this Saturday, March 9th from 7-9pm at the Chicago Athletic Association. 
  • Brunch Banking is happening every Saturday from 12-3pm up until Election Day. RSVP here for phone banking and complimentary brunch!
  • Our March workshop “Phone Banking for Young People’s Political Knowledge and Train Takeovers,” is March 16th from 12-3pm. RSVP here!
  • We have tons of voter education and activation events happening throughout the month, including several Parades to the Polls™ bringing first-time voters to cast their ballots. If you are interested in volunteering, jump down to the volunteer opportunities section!

Primary Elections Are Here!

 Early Voting 

Early Voting in all 50 Wards of Chicago is open now through Election Day, March 19th. Click here to view a list of early voting locations.

 Apply to Vote-By-Mail 

Vote By Mail is now open for the upcoming election on Tuesday, March 19, 2024. Fill out this online form so you can vote by mail in the next election only.

Join the Vote By Mail Permanent Roster: This ensures that you get mailed a ballot for all future elections. You can edit and opt out too.

Fashion Show & Happy Hour

Ballot info and outfit inspo (; A night of fashion, Chicago designers, and you beautiful people! You’re invited to a fashion show and happy hour hosted by our #GiveAShit Creative Collective at the Chicago Athletic Association. 

Support Chicago designers, get fashion inspiration, and grab a 2024 Primary Voter guide! 

Phone Banking for Young People’s Political Knowledge & Train Takeovers

We know it’s election season, when we start getting texts and calls from campaigns Let’s talk about crafting messages people actually want to read. This workshop will go over text/phone banking, to ensure you are crafting engaging and accurate messages, and train takeovers (handing out literature on the CTA).

  • When: Saturday, March 16th from 12 pm to 2 pm
  • Where: Chicago Votes Office: 1006 S Michigan Ave, Ste 606, Chicago, IL 60604

Kiara Hardin has been an invaluable part of the Chicago Votes family for a while, but she has officially joined our staff full-time as the Development and Programs Operations Manager

Voting Rights Restoration

In 2019, Illinois enacted Civics in Prison, offering peer-taught civics courses during the final year of an individual’s sentence. Written by individuals incarcerated in Stateville C.C., the law fosters civic knowledge and engagement across Illinois’ prisons.

Since its implementation in 2020, over 270 incarcerated people have been trained as peer educators, with over 5,000 course participants. This legislative session, we introduced the Reintegration and Civic Empowerment (RACE) Act.

The RACE Act relocates the peer-taught civics courses to the initial year of incarceration and reinstates the right to vote for individuals in custody within 14 days of conviction. In short, it provides civics education and restores the right to vote to individuals in custody.

Interested in joining the movement to restore voting rights to people in prison? Email for ways to plug into the work. 

Elections in Cook County Jail 

On February 28th, our team delivered 5,000 voter guides to Cook County Jail, empowering voters detained in the jail with information on the upcoming primary elections. In addition to voter guide distribution, we have partnered with the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics to lead hour-long ballot education classes in the jail. 

During these classes we review the ballot in detail, with fruitful discussions about things like Cook County State’s Attorney, Ballot Measure 1, and people power. 

Voters detained in the jail had the opportunity to vote this past weekend and will have another opportunity this upcoming weekend. 

Chicago Votes Monthly: Art, Advocacy, and #UnlockCivics

November is here which means it’s pitch black outside at 5PM and spooky season has transitioned to seasonal depression… even so, we are determined to bring light, community, and joy to you! 

If you’re in a hurry, here are some quick deets and links to things happening this month: 

If you have some more time, keep reading for more ways to plug into movement work in the city!

Volunteer with Chicago Votes!

 CCJ Votes 

In October, we registered 30 people to vote inside Cook County Jail. The vast majority of people inside Cook County jail are being held pretrial (have been accused, but not convicted of a crime). That means they have the right to vote! 

Become a CCJ Votes volunteer, in a few steps. Start by completing the fully online, self-paced Cook County Jail Votes training. Once you complete the training course, you will begin receiving monthly CCJ Votes opportunities in your inbox!

Court Watching 

Since the summer, we have been training community court watchers to sit in on court proceedings and observe judges seeking retention to Cook County Criminal Court in 2024. 

Every two years, we–the voters–cast votes in judicial retention elections. Voters are asked whether each judge should remain on the bench (keep their job). A judge must receive 60% “yes” votes to keep their seat. Because there are usually an overwhelming number of judges, with unfamiliar names and records, many people skip this part of the ballot or vote at random. The data our court watchers collect will help voters decide which judges should keep their jobs and which ones gotta go!

Get trained to become a court watcher online, at your own pace. You can also reach out to if you have any questions about the program.

Updates & More!

Give A Sh*t Creative Collective  

Run, don’t walk, to the Chicago Athletic Association to see “Compilation,” an installation by Queen L. Hibbler! Hibbler’s art is on display on the second floor through November 25th. 

Queen L. Hibbler is an artist from the Westside and a member of the #GiveAShit Creative Collective. As a proud queer Black woman and artist, her work explores the beauty of what it means to be Black-as well as a woman. Learn more about Hibbler and support at

Voting in Prison Bill 

Last month, we hosted a luncheon with community organizations, legislative staffers, and formerly incarcerated organizers to build out our strategy for restoring voting rights to people in prison.

The importance of restoring voting rights to people in prison is evident. Without voting rights, inhumane prison conditions proliferate. But on top of that, people in prison will one day return to our communities, and being able to vote makes us all safer and better off.

Watch Silenced: An Unlock Civics Documentary to understand the urgency of restoring votings rights to people in prison. Learn more and take action here.

Sh*t Talks 

Every Thursday at 8PM, another episode of Sh*t Talks is released! So far this season, Naira has been joined by some pretty amazing guests.

We chatted with MfnMelo and Swervin’ Through Stress’ Theresa Ashford about rap and philanthropy in the Chi… We sat with Makafui Searcy, the founder of Fourtune House, and David W Johnson, the founder of True Chicago, to talk about finding our familial stories, the challenges in documenting and preserving family history, and reconnecting with family members…. Camille Williams and Frederique Desrosiers from Chicago Votes hopped on to talk about judges and lawmakers, and holding them accountable for real… Natalie Frazier, City Bureau Documenters Coordinator shared the ins and outs of Chicago’s city budget process… And more!!

Watch/listen to Sh*t Talks on YouTube or wherever you stream your podcasts!

 Latest Episode….

Organizing work involves a lot of pressure, guilt, and burnout. Let’s talk about it. Alycia Kamil, a multidisciplinary artist and freedom fighter from the south side of Chicago, joins Naira to discuss burnout, particularly for people who started organizing at a young age. Together, they talk about the experiences of being adultified in organizing spaces and the challenges of maintaining self-identity outside of organizing.

Sh*t Talkin’ Central  

Chicago multidisciplinary artist and organizer Gabriela Bosquez is the poet behind “How to mourn someone who hurt you.” Head over to Sh*t Talkin’ Central to read and share stories from young people in Chicago. 

Get Paid to Create! 

We publish stories submitted by young Chicagoans, a.k.a. you! You can submit op-eds, digital content, poems, and photos. Selected contributors will be paid $100 per published piece. Pitch us a story here.