Boosting Civic Engagement and Voter Participation in Chicago, Illinois

The government of Chicago, Illinois has taken a number of steps to encourage civic engagement and voter participation. Governor JB Pritzker has signed a comprehensive package of laws to improve the lives of Illinois citizens involved in the justice system. Educators can engage students in lively debates about current events and controversial topics, assign tasks that require civic engagement at home, and organize mock elections. Non-partisan and partisan organizations are also taking part in grassroots initiatives to increase participation. States must have affirmative registration and voting policies to ensure that eligible voters can cast their ballots without facing unnecessary and overly burdensome obstacles.

These policies should include allowing voters to take their time to examine and research candidates and issues, as well as voting from the comfort of their own home before mailing their ballot or dropping it off at a voting center or collection box. By implementing these recommendations, states can diversify and expand their electorate, resulting in a government that is more representative of the American population. House Bill 2541 promotes civic involvement in the criminal justice system by providing returning citizens with a non-partisan peer-to-peer civic education program within 12 months of leaving the Illinois Department of Corrections or the Department of Juvenile Justice. This is an important step towards increasing voter turnout, as potential voters may feel disconnected from the government due to unnecessary barriers in voter registration and the voting process. In addition to examining the factors that contribute to low voter turnout and the effectiveness of voter policies in boosting voter turnout, this report looks at the impact of civic education and voter participation. Eligible citizens are much less likely to take part in elections or in government if they don't understand them.

In seven states, strict voter identification laws require eligible voters to present certain forms of government identification before voting.