Understand the State and Local Positions on your Ballot!
Midterm elections have an incredible impact on our day-to-day life, but voter turnout for Midterms often lags behind Presidential elections. Even for voters who do vote in Midterm elections, much of the attention is focused on national races. It’s critical to remember that Midterm elections are also an opportunity to vote on positions and ballot initiatives at the state and local level. With the variety of local, county, and state positions on our Midterm ballots, it is essential to understand and be informed about how these elected officials may impact your life!
Elected Administrative Positions Provide Needed Services
There are many positions that help manage the administrative needs of state and local government agencies, such as your city and county housing authorities, public transportation, school districts, and departments of public health. In each county in Illinois there is a County Clerk responsible for maintaining all records of transactions with government bodies. The County Clerk is where you go to get a copy of a birth or marriage certificate, or to receive a permit of business license. For LGBTQ+ voters, the County Clerk can help you obtain an updated copy of a birth certificate after a name change or updating a gender marker. Your County Board President is responsible for overseeing the operations of all county departments and plays a key role in presenting funding budgets and annual reports for the needs of the county. As such, the County Board President can decide if issues like healthcare or affordable housing become important agenda items and funding priorities for your county.
State/County Financiers can Influence Funding for Much Needed Public Services
At the state level, we elect a State Treasurer who keeps track of state budgets, manages state investments, and receives and deposits state monies in approved financial institutions. The State Comptroller audits financial claims and provides fiscal guidance to local governments. The State Treasurer and the State Comptroller play a pivotal role in funding critical public services. For example, the State Treasurer and Comptroller can influence funding for underserved schools, increase resources to community-based health clinics, and expand transportation access across the state. They can audit, adjust, and recommend how funding to these services should be allocated. On a local level, we elect a County Treasurer to safekeep public funds and distribute the public funds of the county. One of the main jobs of County Treasurer is to collect and distribute property taxes to a multitude of agencies including school districts, villages, cities, townships, park and forest preserve systems, libraries, public health and safety agencies, election authorities, economic-development agencies and bonds to pay for public-works projects. Who we elect to watch state and local budgets is important in the management of public services we use everyday.
Elected Judicial and Law Enforcement can set Precedents
We elect several District and Circuit Court Judges who are responsible for overseeing a majority of criminal and civil cases in the state. There are also elected State Appellate Court Judges and State Supreme Court judges responsible for hearing cases filed from the lower circuit courts. These judges hold immense power to set legal precedents and influence access to healthcare and civil rights. An important elected law enforcement position is County Sheriff. County Sheriffs are elected in each county and are considered the chief law enforcement official responsible for ensuring that county and state laws are followed. The culture and ecosystem of our court systems and law enforcement bodies are dependent on what judges and law enforcement on our ballots we elect.
What else is on the ballot?
In Chicago, there are elections for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD). The MWRD is responsible for protecting the health of Lake Michigan and all area waterways. It is also responsible for treating wastewater and storm water management for Chicago-area residents and businesses. You can find more information on the MWRD here and on the MWRD candidates here. Alongside these important elected officials, voters will sometimes be asked to vote on ballot measures. A ballot measure is an issue or question that appears on a statewide or local ballot for voters of the jurisdiction to decide. In this upcoming Midterm election, there is a statewide ballot measure regarding a provision being added to the Illinois State Constitution regarding worker’s rights and collective bargaining rights. You can find more information on that ballot measure here.
Engaging in Midterm elections provide many opportunities for voters to elect officials who align with their needs. Being an informed voter on these positions can help us all better understand how these elected officials will serve us and our communities. For more information on the officials up for election on your ballot (state or county), you can visit here. You can visit Howard Brown to get more info on the Midterms, judges’ races and special circumstances when voting.