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.