Early voting will begin in just a few days, and while most voters know at least two of the presidential contenders, some down-ballot positions and names may not be quite so familiar as Clinton and Trump.

In the ninth Congressional district, Democrat incumbent Jan Schakowsky faces a challenge by Republican Joan McCarthy Lasonde. In the U.S. Senate race, incumbent Republican Mark Kirk is challenged by Democrat Tammy Duckworth.

In state races, Republican Jessica Tucker of Winnetka is challenging Democrat incumbent Robyn Gabel of Evanston in the 18th District. In the 17th District, incumbent Laura Fine, a Democrat, is unchallenged.

Republican Leslie Geissler Munger, Democrat Susana Mendoza, Libertarian Claire Ball, and Green Party candidate Tim Curtin are all seeking to fill the unexpired term for State Comptroller.

In Cook County races, Democrat Kim Foxx and Republican Christopher E.K. Pfannkuche are running for State’s Attorney. Republican Diane S. Shapiro and Democrat Dorothy Brown are running for Clerk of the Circuit Court.

Scores of judges are on the ballot, and voters can vote “yes” to retain the judge or “no.” A judge must receive 60% “yes” votes to remain in office.  

Cook County residents will see three referendum questions on the ballot, one statewide and two countywide.

The statewide referendum is a proposal to change the Illinois State Constitution by adding a new section (Section 11) to the Revenue Article (Article IX) of the Constitution. The proposed amendment would limit the spending of funds derived from taxes or fees on transportation and infrastructure to improvements in those areas. The official explanation states, “The proposed amendment provides that no moneys derived from taxes, fees, excises, or license taxes, relating to registration, titles, operation, or use of vehicles or public highways, roads, streets, bridges, mass transit, intercity passenger rail, ports, or airports, or motor fuels, including bond proceeds, shall be expended for other than costs of administering laws related to vehicles and transportation, costs for construction, reconstruction, maintenance, repair, and betterment of public highways, roads, streets, bridges, mass transit, intercity passenger rail, ports, airports, or other forms of transportation, and other statutory highway purposes, including the State or local share to match federal aid highway funds.”

Information on the ballot advises that a ballot without a vote on this issue will be counted as a “no” vote.

One of the countywide referendum questions concerns the elimination of the office of the Cook County Recorder of Deeds and consolidating the duties and responsibilities of that office to the office of the Cook County Clerk by Dec. 7, 2020:  “Shall the Office of the Cook County Recorder of Deeds be eliminated and all duties and responsibilities of the Office of the Cook County Recorder of Deeds be transferred to, and assumed by, the Office of the Cook County Clerk by December 7, 2020?”

The second countywide question is, “Shall Illinois enact the Earned Sick Time for Employees Act which will allow Illinois workers to earn up to 40 hours of sick time a year to take care of their own health or a family member’s health?”

Early Voting Hours: Oct. 24-Nov.7 are Mon.-Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sun. 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...