The unpredictable 2016 presidential elections have made Tuesday's primary in Illinois important not only at the local level, but also nationally. Follow along as Progress Illinois catches up with voters at polling places and candidates on the campaign trail throughout the day.
The unpredictable 2016 presidential elections have made Tuesday's primary in Illinois important not only at the local level, but also nationally as Illinois' 182 delegates are critical in the races for the Democrats and Republicans.
Some of the hottest races in Illinois today outside of the presidential race are for Cook County State's Attorney, Cook County Circuit Court Clerk, the 5th state House district and the 26th state House district, among others. The race for the Democratic candidates in the U.S. Senate contest and 10th congressional district are also interesting ones to watch, along with the 22nd state House seat where challenger Jason Gonzales is going up against powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan. We will provide updates on these races and others throughout the day in our live-blog.
We started our day off by catching up with 26th state House district challenger Jay Travis to find that her polling place, at the Paul G. Stewart Apartments, 401 E. Bowen Ave., was in a state of chaos.
Progress Illinois spoke with 26th district candidate Jay Travis shortly before 8:30 a.m. today outside her polling place after experiencing an issue obtaining the correct ballot. Travis said she initially received a ballot for the 5th House district, rather than the 26th district. The polling place is a shared precinct for voters in both the 5th and 26th House districts.
"The people inside are still not clear about which ballots to give to which voters, and that's problematic. They should be prepared before voting starts, and so while I was able to vote because they know that I'm gonna be pretty persistent about making sure that these issues are cleared up, there are many people who probably don't have the time to file complaints," Travis said. "Their votes should not be suppressed. We have a right to enter a polling place and vote for the candidate that best reflects our values and interest. And that is not going to be possible today in this polling place unless we get someone from the Attorney General's office in this polling place.
"We're not going to accept bogus machine tactics today, and we're going to be vigilant about making sure that all voters in the 26th district have the right to vote for the candidate of their choice. It's a hard-won right that people have struggled for decades to make sure that we have. We'll make sure that folks are able to exercise their right to vote today."
Stacy Davis Gates with the Chicago Teachers Union talked to PI reporter Ellyn Fortino at about 8:30 a.m. outside her polling place at the Paul G. Stewart Apartments.
"As a voter in the 3rd Ward, 12th precinct, I came to vote this morning and I was given two incorrect ballots. I called the Board of Elections. I started Tweeting. I was in contact with the alderman through Twitter, and they finally found after an hour (the correct) ballot. But the workers don't know who to give what particular ballot to, because this is a shared precinct."
"I tried to pull a 26th district House district ballot, 7th congressional district," she explained. "The first ballot I received was for the 5th House district, 1st congressional district. The second ballot I received was from the 26th House district, 1st congressional district. Both were wrong. I am in the 26th House district. The 5th state Senate district, and the 7th congressional district. They found that one after an hour. After 50 people have already voted, and the workers haven't received the proper training, and they are asking for the training themselves. So this is obviously a problem."
Davis Gates said she eventually was able to vote with the correct ballot.
"My issue is that people are still coming into this precinct ... (and) the workers are still giving out the wrong ballot because, by their own admission, they don't know which ballot to give the person coming in," she said.
Evelyn Sanders, 74, lives in the Paul G. Stewart apartment building, in which her polling site was located.
Sanders, a Democratic voter, said she initially received a Republican ballot.
"When they gave me the ballot, and I went inside the booth, ... I had a Republican one. So I said, 'No, this is Republican.' Then they had to fish around. She had to go to the cabinet and get a Democrat one, so that's the problem I had," said Sanders, who lives in the 5th House district, in which incumbent Ken Dunkin is being challenged by Juliana Stratton.
"They didn't have the ballots all together," she said. "What if I hadn't really paid any attention" and voted with the wrong ballot?
Sanders said she has been overwhelmed by the amount of political calls and mailers she's received for the 5th House district race.
Sanders said she voted for incumbent Dunkin (D-Chicago).
"I'm for Ken Dunkin ... I know him. He's been out" meeting with residents of the apartments, she said.
"I really don't know too much about Juliana," she said. "We know Ken Dunkin. So that's who I'm for."
UPDATE 1 (12:54 p.m.): We caught up with 5th state House district Rep. Ken Dunkin on the campaign trail in Chicago's Washington Park neighborhood this morning. Dunkin, who is in a hotly-contested race with challenger Juliana Stratton, defended his voting record in an interview with Progress Illinois. Click through to see what he had to say.
UPDATE 2 (1:13 p.m.): Shortly after today 12:20 p.m., 130 people voted in the 4th precinct and 158 people in the 9th precinct. Election judges described the turnout as "pretty good" thus far.
State Rep. Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago), who is running for re-election in the 26th House district, greeted voters outside the Mollison Elementary polling place this afternoon.
"I'm saying the same thing I've said throughout this campaign: If you believe in results over rhetoric, I'm the candidate for you," Mitchell told Progress Illinois shortly after 12:30 p.m.
"I've been down there [in Springfield] doing the right stuff, fighting back on the governor," he added. "I voted to overturn all his destructive vetoes to child care and in-home care and want to continue to keep fighting for you. And people for the most part say, 'Hey, you know, I really appreciate that' and 'go get 'em.'"
If elected to a new term, Mitchell said he will continue efforts to reform the state's education funding system, among other top legislative priorities.
Regarding the ongoing budget impasse, Mitchell said his hope is that "these Republican legislators who are seeing the economic engine of their community being devastated will get in the game."
Mitchell was referring to the impact of the state budget impasse on higher education institutions, which have gone unfunded for the past eight months.
"They [Republicans] have to get into the game, because that's what's gonna change the calculus for this governor, is when they start to break ranks. And I think that when they're seeing people losing their jobs and losing their opportunities to send their kids to college, that's gonna start to happen."
UPDATE 3 (1:27 p.m.): South Side resident Cynthia Johnson, 63, voted this afternoon at Mollison Elementary School.
Johnson, a Democrat, said the presidential race was her top priority when casting a ballot today, saying she voted for Hillary Clinton because she believes the former Secretary of State is the most qualified for the job.
"She seems like she knows exactly what to do," -- said. "She's been in politics for a long time. Think about it, this woman was already (in) the White House [as former First Lady]. So she's no dummy."
Progress Illinois checked in at the Chicago polling place at Irvin C. Mollison Elementary School.
The polling site covers two precincts, 4 and 9, in the city's 3rd Ward.
Residents in the states 5th and 26th districts are casting ballots here.
UPDATE 4 (2:20 p.m.): Progress Illinois visited the polling site at Peck Elementary School on the Southwest Side. Voters in the 22nd House district are casting ballots there. Shortly after 2 p.m., 97 people had voted in precinct 3 of Ward 13. The precinct has 493 registered voters, according to election workers.
UPDATE 5 (3:26 p.m.): On a call with reporters, James Allen of the Chicago Board of Elections, said there were problems with 17-year-old voters being put in the electronic system to vote due to their age. For the first time, 17-year-olds are able to vote if they turn 18 by the general election.
Four election judges were removed for bad behavior and being intoxicated on the job. In the 33rd Ward, 19th precinct, Stanley J. Bartkus was removed as a judge because he was on the ballot as a Republican committeeman, which is against the rules.
Allen said they are "very pleased with day of registration," saying it is "the one item we are having the least complaints about."
Split precincts, however, have been a thorn in the board of election's side. Allen said there were "a few dozen complaints at a minimum" in precincts where there is more than one jurisdiction, and made note of Travis' complaint about receiving the wrong ballot at her polling place.
"It's one of those morning hiccups that is common, especially in a primary when you have multiple ballot styles and parties," Allen said, who also said there were "no nefarious" plots behind the confusion.
Travis, however, is dubious of the problems, calling them acts of "voter supression" in a release this afternoon:
The campaign has fielded calls since early this morning from voters who say when they went to vote for Travis, they could not find her name on the ballot and judges could not provide them with the correct ballot.
The wards -- 3,4,5 and 7 -- lie at the heart of Travis' voter base in the district. Travis came close to beating the incumbent, Christian Mitchell, in this race two years ago, when election day voting was also marred by sweeping concerns by Travis supporters with voter suppression in many of these same wards. In most precincts, election judges were handing out ballots for the wrong race -- the 5th district contest between Rauner-backed incumbent Ken Dunkin and challenger Juliana Stratton -- and in several instances either judges were steering voters to cast ballots for Mitchell or Mitchell operatives were electioneering inside the precinct.
Travis campaign workers were reporting ballot problems and issues related to voter supression in the 3rd Ward's 12th precinct; in the 4th ward's 18th, 19th, 28th and 32nd precincts; in the 5th Ward's 4th, 5th, 13th, 17th, 21st and 36th precincts, and in the 7th Ward's 25th precinct. A number of those precincts are located in senior housing complexes, where Travis has strong support for her historic work with seniors against slumlords.
"This has been a serious problem since the polls opened their doors at 6AM today -- and it remains a serious problem well into this afternoon," said Travis. "There is no lower form of wrongdoing in what is supposed to be a democratic election than voter suppression. People fought and died for the right to vote, and to see people denied that right -- or steered to voting for candidates they don't support -- represents the worst kind of machine-style politics.
"We had widespread problems of this type in the last race, and it's appalling to see voters have to confront this again, as residents seek to unseat this desperate and wildly unpopular incumbent. We will fight tooth and nail in this race to make sure that every voter is given the right to exercise their precious franchise."
Turnout could be as high at 40 percent, but it will not reach the heights of the 2008 race, when turnout reached a record 53 percent. Early voting is expected to impact turnout at polls today.
UPDATE 6 (3:38 p.m.): Four precincts in suburban Cook County will stay open until 8 p.m. because the locations opened late. From the Cook County Clerk's office:
Polling places in Skokie and Prospect Heights opened late because the buildings were locked Tuesday morning, and a polling place in Oak Park opened late because of absent poll workers.
The precincts that will remain open late are:
Precincts 23 and 64
Devonshire School, 9040 Kostner Ave., Skokie
Willow Heights Condominiums, 844 E Old Willow Rd., Prospect Heights
Oak Park Township
Oak Park Arms, 408 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park
Eligible voters at these precincts are permitted to vote up to one hour after the statewide poll-closing time of 7 p.m. Any voters - including those taking part in election day registration - who are in line by the 8 p.m. deadline will be allowed to cast a ballot.
UPDATE 6 (3:51 p.m.): Chicago activists are flying signs "linking Hillary Clinton with unpopular Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, with whom Emanuel covered up the 2014 Chicago PD's killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald while campaigning for his own re-election." The activists planned to fly the signs yesterday, but were grounded by fog. The signs read: "Chicago Stands with Laquan, Hillary Stands with Rahm -- #ByeAnita #ByeRahm"
"To this day, Hillary Clinton has yet to condemn Chicago's anti-black mayor," said Tess Raser, an organizer with Assata'a Daughters, the group coordinating today's banner actions. "Mayor Emmanuel has conspired with State's Attorney Alvarez during his own re-election campaign to cover up the police murder of Laquan McDonald -- a life that to Emmanuel, Alvarez, and Clinton did not matter. Any politician who supports Emanuel should consider themselves implicated in his misconduct. Anti-black politicians are not welcome in Chicago whether they are running for State's Attorney or President of The United States.
"Yesterday we dropped 16 banners calling for Anita Alvarez to be ousted from office. 16 banners for the 16 shots CPD fired that killed Laquan McDonald. It took moments for CPD to steal Laquan's life and nearly a year before evidence of that moment would surface. Anita Alvarez has cosigned on CPD's wanton disregard for Black life and has conspired to suppress evidence of this disregard. Anita Alvarez does not care about Black people, and she must go."
Photos and video of the flying signs can be seen here.
UPDATE 7 (5:25 p.m.): We caught up with House Speaker Michael Madigan's challenger Jason Gonzales as he campaigned in the 22nd legislative district. He denied allegations that he is a Rauner plant, saying he is going up against the "man with more power than anybody" for other reasons. Click through to read our interview with Gonzales and see what Madigan's camp has to say about the race.
UPDATE 8 (5:51 p.m.): The largest polling place in Springfield has been running out of ballots and may need to stay open late due to the shortage. One election judge is calling the turnout "explosive."
UPDATE 9 (6:15 p.m.): Reclaim Chicago hit the streets Tuesday to get-out-the-vote for their endorsed candidates, which includes U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for president and Kim Foxx for Cook County State's Attorney.
UPDATE 10 (7:00 p.m.): The Florida race has been called for Donald Trump on the Republican side and Hillary Clinton in the Democratic battle. The race is too close to call in Illinois between Clinton and Sanders.
The polls have closed in Illinois and results are starting to come in, so we are switching over to our election night live-blog.
Image:AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File