Your Guide to the Midterm Election in Chicago This November

Here's everything you need to know about voting in the midterms in Chicago.


The 2020 General Election may feel like eons ago, but the Midterm Elections are now on the horizon. And considering the chaos that was 2020, the 2022 elections are going to be pivotal. Election Day is coming in hot on November 8, so now is the time to ensure your voter registration is up to snuff, deadlines are met, you know your polling place, and you’re prepared to vote early or cast a mail-in ballot. And while going to the polls is likely to look a lot more “normal” than the 2020 General Election, there’s a lot at stake that feels anything but-emphasizing the importance of voting and making your voice heard.

It’s a sentiment that rings very true in Chicago, the metropolitan nexus of a state so politically notorious that a list of the state’s most corrupt politicians can barely be contained to a top 10. Voting here-in the state that gave us Rod Blagojevich-has always been vital, and this fall’s elections are no different, with congressional, gubernatorial, and other statewide races all on the docket. Fortunately, Chicago seems to acknowledge the importance of voting, as it’s one of the easier states to cast a ballot in, with ample opportunities and avenues to make your voice heard on or before November 8. Here’s everything you need to know about the Midterm Elections in Chicago.

Registering to vote in Chicago

New voter registration online ends on October 23, and all mail-in registration must be postmarked by October 11. Not registered to vote by Election Day? No problem. Illinois, blessedly, is one of the states that allow you to register to vote on Election Day, doing so when you cast your in-person ballot on November 8. Visit here to check your voter registration status in Illinois.

What’s on the ballot: key races and issues

There is a lot on the ballot in Illinois for the Midterms. Federally, Chicagoans will cast their vote for US Senator (Democratic Tammy Dumworth vs. Republican Kathi Salvi vs. Libertarian Bill Redpath) and US Representatives in the 1st through 9th districts, while Democrat Kwame Raoul, Republican Thomas G. DeVore, and Libertarian Daniel K. Robin are all up for Attorney General.

The local biggie is Governor and Lieutenant Governor, with JB Pritzker and Juliana Stratton vying for re-election against Republican duo Darren Bailey and Stephanie Trussell, and Libertarians Scott Schluter and John Phillips. Secretary of State, Comptroller, and Treasurer are also on the ballot, as are a slew of State Senators, State Representatives, and local candidates like commissioner, clerk, and sheriff.

Beyond the candidates, the biggest item on the ballot is Amendment 1, or as it’s known in less vague language: the Illinois Right to Collective Bargaining Measure, or the slightly more optimistic Workers’ Rights Amendment. In typically controversial style for Illinois, it’s an amendment that’s also been described as a tax hike in disguise, which would create a state constitutional right for employees to organize and bargain collectively to negotiate wages, hours, and working conditions. Said amendment would simultaneously bar laws that interfere with or negate these collective bargaining agreements. This would also lead to tax increases for Illinois home-owners and small business owners, including a property tax hike of $2,100.

Check out a full list of candidates and amendments here.

Can I vote early?

Yes. Early voting-for anyone registered to vote-in Chicago is open between October 7 and November 7, though dates and hours vary by county elsewhere in the state. In-person early voting requests must be received by November 2. The Chicago Board of Elections Office and the Chicago Board of Elections Supersite will both be open the entire 30 days before the election, and all voting sites in the city will be open for early voting by October 24 (if not sooner). Here’s where to find an early voting location near you.

Can I vote by mail?

Most definitely. Illinois allows all registered voters to do so via absentee ballot without an excuse. However, you’ll need to request a mail-in ballot to do so, with that deadline being November 3. To mail it in and have it count, your ballot must be postmarked by November 8 and received by November 22. In Chicago, you can drop off your mail-in ballot at your local elections office, or at a drop box location throughout the county. Here’s where to find drop box locations near you.

How to find your polling place

It’s easy. Just plug in your address and zip code here to find your local polling place.

How to vote absentee in Chicago

If you’re gonna be out of town on Election Day, fear not. Chicagoans can vote absentee by filling out this application and dropping it off or mailing it to your county elections office. Don’t delay, though, because all absentee requests must be received by the election authority by October 29.

How to volunteer as a poll worker

Considering Cook County is facing a critical shortage of election workers, it’s all hands on deck for the Midterms. Election judges and coordinators man the polling stations and keep people voting efficiently. Election judges make up to $230 and election coordinators make up to $450 for Election Day. You can apply to be a poll worker here.

Additional Chicago voting resources

For more information on everything from voter registration and deadlines to polling places, ballot details, and sample ballots, visit the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners and the Illinois State Board of Elections.


Robyn DaCultyre Is Doing It for the Culture

"The cool thing about Ohio is that there is literally a place for everyone."

Photo by Kayode Omoyosi
Photo by Kayode Omoyosi
Photo by Kayode Omoyosi

I was introduced to Robyn DaCultyre at an Untitled Queen show at C’mon Everybody in late January, and it was one of the most unique drag shows I’d seen in a while. Afterwards, I tracked down this self-described “drag creature” and video chatted about her drag origin story, the state of drag in her native Ohio, and the dual identities that make up her persona. Thrillist: I want to ask you about how Robyn DaCultyre came about and your point of view behind your performance.

Robyn DaCultyre: I’ve been travelling around the country from a young age in ministry and Christian studies. I moved to Chicago right after high school. Four years later, moved back to Columbus and decided I didn’t really want to do church anymore; that wasn’t where my heart was.

I had a really low point in my life and had a suicide attempt and then really found drag and started doing drag as a coping mechanism and way to let off steam. I started in July of 2019, and it was really a lot of punk and metal music. I created this drag creature of sorts and they were really out of this world and celestial and all of those fun alien type terms.

And then we went into a global pandemic and I had a lot of time to figure out who I wanted to be. Digitally I was still doing a lot of drag creature-esque numbers and all of that, but I had this moment where we’re on the front lines getting hit with pepper spray and rubber bullets and pepper spray-all of those lovely things. And I said, I have this platform and I need to start showcasing what’s happening.

Untitled [Queen] stepped in at the right time and messaged me and said, “I’m doing this show for Independence Day called Untitled in America with 52 different performers and I want you to be a part of it.” It was at that moment I was able to take the footage I had been recording on the front lines and incorporate it into digital content. I did a song called Black Like Me by Mickey Guyton that talks about white picket fences, but if you want to see how America is, then you should try being Black like me. The imagery of what’s literally happening in Columbus in that digital performance really spearheaded me into focusing on people who look like me.

Nina Simone is one of my biggest inspirations, and one of her quotes that resonates with me is that it’s the duty of the artist to resonate with the times. My art is politically charged. I like to entertain, but there will definitely be a time when you come to a show expecting to have your drink and be chill and that might not be the case.

How did the name Robyn DaCultyre come about?

I was smoking with Ursula Major, who was on season one of Dragula, and the first time I introduced myself to her I was Robyn Banks, which is my drag name originally. She said, “Well, do you just not want to be original at all?” [Laughs] And I sat with that for a couple of months, and I got really stoned one day and was listening to Janelle Monae, and she talks about doing it for the culture, and I said “I do it for the culture, too!” And the rest is history.

And you started a series called Melanated.

We started Melanated last February. I told the idea to my show director that there were no shows specifically run by Black people that only featured Black entertainers. I wanted to do this show for a night and she said, Why don’t we do it once a week for the whole month? The first show happens, and it’s a sold out crowd, and [my director] comes back and says we should do this every month. So I sucked it up and here we are a year later.

Melanated is the only fully Black show in all of the state. It’s a horrible marketing tool and not something I want to promote, but it is just a fact. It amazes me that we are the 13th largest city in America and there’s nothing here that’s fully focused on Black entertainers. The name also comes from Janelle Monae; she says she’s highly melanated and I said, that works.

Photos by Chay Creates LLC (left) and Bridget Caswell (right)
Photos by Chay Creates LLC (left) and Bridget Caswell (right)
Photos by Chay Creates LLC (left) and Bridget Caswell (right)

You refer to yourself as a drag creature, as opposed to drag queen or king…

This is actually the first time I’m making this public. I am in this place where I want to separate the alternative creature from who this melanated goddess or whatever is. DaCultyre is definitely the person who runs Melanated and then Robyn is this drag creature that is out of this world and really loves punk and alternative music. And both intertwine to make Robyn DaCultyre.

You also do pageants. Tell me about that.

In 2020 I was appointed by Nina West, who is from Columbus, as the representative from Ohio for National Entertainer of the Year in Louisville, Kentucky. I placed ninth out of 13 contestants and I really fell in love with the system and fell in love with the pageantry and loved the idea of reigning and being different. I want to show that we as alternative performers, as bearded performers, you can come into these systems and shake things up.

Is there a uniquely “Ohio” style of drag?

No, and I think that’s one of the things that makes it so amazing is that everyone has their own unique style, and it’s all pretty much accepted. I started as a performer and a drag creature and there was space that was afforded to me and I transitioned to more glamor and pageantry and that’s afforded to me as well. I’ve been a bearded entertainer for a year now. The cool thing about Ohio is that there is literally a place for everyone.

I think I have everything I need. Is there anything else I didn’t ask you about that you want to bring up, or‚Ķ

I don’t think so. Are there any generic questions you haven’t asked?

Generic questions‚ĶI think I asked all of them already [laughs]. I like to ask what you’d be doing if you weren’t doing drag?

It’s a great question. I have a day job that is very demanding so I need drag to get away. I’m also very creative and artistic. I used to do web design and all these other things to pull into my creativity. Drag is the longest thing I’ve stuck with in all parts of my life, so I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon.

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John deBary¬†is a drinks expert and writer. His first cocktail book,¬†Drink What You Want, is available now, and his next book,¬†Saved by the Bellini, is expected in early 2023. He is also the co-founder and president of the¬†Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the lives of hospitality industry professionals through advocacy, grant making, and impact investing.


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