On April 7, there's going to be a world-historical electoral showdown in Chicago between incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the insurgent challenger, former Harold Washington lieutenant Jesus "Chuy" Garcia. The official deadline for voter registration is in less than a week, on March 10. A recent Chicago Sun-Times poll said the race was a "dead heat."
National media are already portraying this as a national showdown between the Hillary Clinton/Wall Street/corporate wing of the Democratic Party and the Elizabeth Warren/Bernie Sanders/Harold Washington populist wing. MoveOn, Democracy for America, and other national progressive Democratic groups are already on the ground in Chicago, pulling out the stops for Chuy. Veterans of the Harold Washington campaigns are "getting the band back together."
We all believe in voting and participation, right? So, if this is really going to be a referendum on where the Democratic Party is headed, with national implications, then we all should all easily agree that every available Chicagoan over the age of 18 should participate, right?
Members of the Chicago diaspora spread across the United States - especially, spread across Illinois - have a special responsibility to help Rock the Vote.
With this responsibility in mind, I have prepared the following planning calendar from public sources, focused on the task of making sure that college students from Chicago who may temporarily be residing in other places in Illinois avail themselves of the opportunity to participate.
All of us have Chicagoans in our midst. Make sure that the Chicagoans in your life engage on this. Friends don't let friends miss a world-historical election.
Chicago Mayoral Election: Student Participation Planning Calendar
March 10: Official deadline for registering to vote in the election. Chicagoans can register to vote here.
March 7 - March 15: Spring Break at Northern Illinois University, Illinois State University, and Southern Illinois University. Thus, Northern, ISU and SIU students who are home in Chicago for Spring Break can register to vote before the official deadline during the first few days of their break.
March 16 - 20: Spring Break at Eastern Illinois University.
March 23 - April 4: Early vote at any of 51 locations citywide.
March 21 - March 29: Spring Break at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Thus, UIUC students who are home in Chicago for Spring Break can early vote between March 23 and March 29.
April 2: Official deadline for requesting a mail ballot (absentee ballot.) Any registered voter may cast an absentee ballot by mail. Voters do not need a reason or excuse to vote by mail. Absentee ballots need to be postmarked by April 6th. The official deadline to apply for a mail ballot is April 2nd, but the board of elections strongly recommends applying weeks ahead of the deadline to make sure voters have time to receive and return their ballots.
April 5-6: in-person absentee voting at the Chicago Election Board's offices.
April 7 - Election Day! Polling places can be looked up here.