Chicago Votes Monthly: Our Year in Review!

For those in a hurry, here’s your little update!

This season of Sh*t Talks is wrapping up with just three more episodes! Catch new episodes every Thursday at 8pm! Watch Sh*t Talks on Youtube or listen to them wherever you stream your podcasts. 

Become an #UnlockCivics volunteer! If you’re interested in observing Cook County Criminal Court judges, the Court Watching program is perfect for you. If you want to register people inside Cook County Jail to vote, join CCJ Votes. You can even join both! 

No C Space this month! ): However, you can fill out our partnership request form to rent our office space (free!)

  • We hosted 10 happy hours, cultivating joyful spaces to learn about issues impacting our communities. Most recently, we hosted a happy hour with City Bureau focusing on the Chicago City Budget. Folks watched the budget address, talked about their budget priorities, learned about the budget process, and enjoyed drinks and candy (: Other happy hours have featured election education, fashion shows, and performances by local artists.
  • During the municipal elections, we hosted 26 Parades to the Polls, organizing alongside 16 student leaders and 23 artists. Parades to the Polls bring young people around the city to vote with music, pizza, and great vibes. 
  • Over 90,000 voter guides reached young people throughout Chicago through direct mail, partnerships with organizations, social media, our online vote center, and drop-offs at Cook County Jail. 
  • Our Voting in Prison legislation received a hearing in the House Ethics & Elections Committee and a total of 2,050 proponent witness slips. 
  • Through Cook County Jail Votes, we have registered 1,615 inside the jail to vote. During the February elections, 927 votes were cast in the jail. That increased to 1,487 during the runoff elections.
  • We trained 177 incarcerated civic educators across Illinois prisons as part of the implementation of Civics in Prison. The Civics in Prison bill brings peer-taught civics education to the Illinois Department of Corrections. The curriculum was co-written by incarcerated colleagues in Stateville C.C., Dr. Christina Rivers, and Chicago Votes. It covers voting rights history, voting and elections, and government 101.

 CCJ Votes 

In November, we registered 191 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 

Chicago Votes and the Illinois Alliance for Reentry & Justice have launched a court-watching program, sending community members inside Cook County Criminal Court to watch judges and collect data on bias and misconduct. The data collected will help in the creation of a judicial voter guide in 2024.

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.

Give A Sh*t Creative Collective

Our Give A Sh*t Creative Collective is a hub for creatives to rethink how we engage young Chicagoans in the political process. The Collective is made up of a diverse set of artists, including designers, musicians, poets, and videographers. Joining gives you access to paid opportunities, including mini grants.

We meet monthly to strategize, share opportunities, and craft alongside one another. Join the Give A Sh*t (GAS) Creative Collective and become a member of a community of change-making artists. 

Voting in Prison Bill

Throughout 2023, Chicago Votes has continued our advocacy around House Bill 39, known as “Voting in Prison.” We met with lawmakers and hosted advocacy days, power hours, and trips to Springfield–all in collaboration with coalition partners, advocates, lawmakers, and directly impacted community members. Despite our efforts, and those of so many others, we did not get House Bill 39 passed this year. 

That being said, we have taken the time to reflect on our campaign, have important conversations with our coalition, and strategize with community members in prison. We are taking all these conversations, meetings, and lessons and crafting a new campaign for the same legislation in 2024. 

Sh*t Talks

This season of Sh*t Talks is wrapping up with just three more episodes! Catch new episodes every Thursday at 8pm! Watch Sh*t Talks on Youtube or listen to them wherever you stream your podcasts. 

Latest Episode!!!!

When do you feel most free? What does that freedom feel like?

In this week’s Sh*t Talks episode, Naira engages in a timely and thought-provoking conversation with Shawnee Dez, Isra Rahman, and Stuti Sharma on freedom and collective liberation. The episode centers around the war on Gaza and the trio’s collaborative effort in organizing a youth teach-in on the topic.

They explore broader themes of liberation and freedom, emphasizing the interconnectedness of various struggles for justice around the world. They discuss the need for community liberation and how individuals can actively contribute to creating positive change. 

More Episodes…

 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.