It’s Voting Season, Lake County 

Let's all register and vote!

That means it’s time for us to exercise our right to vote and demonstrate our collective power to shape our shared future! Here is important information you need to know about voting in the upcoming elections. 

Check your registration status

First things first: Visit the Lake County Voter Power website (Sitio web de Lake County Voter Power) to verify whether you are registered to vote. 

Get informed

Once you log in to the Lake County Voter Power site, you’ll be able to take action and find lots of helpful information. 

  • Request a ballot by mail November election
  • Track my mail ballot November elections
  • What is on my ballot?
  • My elected officials
  • My districts
  • Certificate of registration
  • Voting by mail program
  • Where do I vote?
  • Know your ballot style
  • How to cast a write-in vote

We believe it’s super important that you look at your ballots online before you go to vote in person. Ballots list a lot of candidates running for positions that are not as well known as the office of President. These may be harder (but no less important) to navigate if you haven’t done a little prep work before you go to vote.

Registering and voting in-person 

Do you need to register to vote, or update your information? No problem! You can register and vote the same day at early voting sites through November 1, and at specific locations on November 2-3. 

See a full list of early voting sites in Lake County.  (Haga clic aquí para obtener una lista completa de los sitios de votación temprana.)

  • Monday, October 19, through Sunday, November 1
    Grace period voter registration will be available at every early voting site in Lake County. All locations offer weekday, evening, and weekend hours.
  • Monday, November 2
    Four early voting sites will remain open to voter registration applicants on Monday, November 2.
  • Tuesday, November 3 (Election Day, state holiday)
    Grace period voter registration will be available at your assigned neighborhood voting site (el lugar de votación de su vecindario asignado), the Lake County Main Courthouse Lobby (18 N. County St., Waukegan), and the Lake County Fairgrounds (1060 E. Peterson Road, Grayslake). 

Election Day polls will be open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. 

Voter registration requirements

To register to vote in the US elections, you must:

  • Be a United States citizen
  • Be a resident of your precinct at least 30 days before the election
  • Be 18 years of age or older on or before the November 3, 2020, General Election
  • Not be convicted and in jail
  • Not claim the right to vote anywhere else in the United States.

In-person voter registration applicants will be required to present two forms of valid identification at time of registration. Both must include your name, and one must have a current Lake County street address.

Voting by mail 

Visit Lake County’s Vote-by-Mail information portal (el portal de información de Voto por correo de Lake County) for vote-by-mail application deadlines as well as information on submitting mail-in ballots. 

Due to post office processing delays, we strongly encourage vote-by-mail voters to:

  • Fill out your ballot and drop it in the mail on the day it arrives. Ballots postmarked after Election Day will not be considered. 
  • Drop off your completed ballot at one of Lake County’s free drop box locations (uno de los buzones gratuitos). 
  • Drop off your completed ballot at the Lake County Clerk’s Office (18 N. County St., Waukegan) by 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Together we win!


Want details on ballots, candidates, referenda?

Click here (English).
English 
Click here (Spanish)
Spanish

 

 

CPLC Members to Lawmakers: Pass CEJA Now

Clean Power Lake County activists urge Illinois lawmakers to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act in 2020.
Dulce Ortiz, co-chair of Clean Power Lake County, and other Waukegan activists urge Illinois lawmakers to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act in 2020.

Storms are becoming more intense. Sea levels are rising. Disastrous wildfires are destroying record acreage (2.5 million this year) and impairing air quality over multistate regions. Climate change and COVID-19 are causing unprecedented public health and economic crises. There is no time to wait for cleaner, healthier, more affordable energy.

And we don’t have to wait. The Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) will create thousands of jobs in Illinois’ growing clean energy industry—without raising taxes or hiking utility rates. No wonder 82% of Illinois voters support CEJA, according to a May 2020 poll released by the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition. 

The thing is, Illinois lawmakers have yet to pass CEJA. So Dulce Ortiz, David Villalobos, and Eduardo Flores of Clean Power Lake County want to know: What is Gov. J.B. Pritzker waiting for?

CEJA will:

  • Put jobs and equity at the center of a clean energy future, creating well-paying jobs in the communities where they are needed the most
  • Guarantee cost savings on electricity bills for consumers through capacity market reform
  • Put Illinois on a path to 100% renewable energy by 2050 by taking advantage of the falling cost of wind and solar power and focusing on energy efficiency
  • Provide a just transition for fossil fuel workers and communities
  • Reduce air and water pollution from the fossil fuel industry

As we approach the final legislative session of 2020, will you stand for clean energy, clean air, and clean water? Tell lawmakers that CEJA must take precedence in the November veto session: Sign our “Pass CEJA” petition today.

 

CPLC Members Call for Stronger Coal Ash Rules

It is part of Clean Power Lake County’s DNA to support state action on toxic coal ash ponds.  So when the Illinois Pollution Control Board (IPCB) held its August hearing on proposed rules for the Coal Ash Pollution Prevention Act, we were there to call for stronger rules. 

Why was that important? Because the groundbreaking Coal Ash Pollution Prevention Act provided an important framework for addressing toxic coal ash waste (see CPLC Celebrates as Governor Signs Milestone Coal Ash Cleanup Bill Into Law) and a rulemaking process. However, it did not establish enforcement standards. Instead, it tasked the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) with drafting the actual rules for enforcing the law. 

The August hearing was IEPA’s first opportunity to testify in defense of its proposed rules. It also was the first time that industry representatives, environmental groups, and other public stakeholders could ask IEPA about the proposed rules.

Several Clean Power Lake County members—including folks who participated in IEPA coal ash listening sessions in Waukegan last September—made virtual statements during the public comment periods of the August hearing. 

Mary Mathews represents the League of Women Voters of Lake County, a coalition member of Clean Power Lake County. Mathews demanded strict measures for coal ash: “In order to protect the groundwater’s chemical integrity, rules for cleanup and closure of coal ash sites must provide permanent protection from coal ash pollution.”

She also stressed the importance of public participation in the decision-making process: “The public has the right to know about pollution levels, dangers to health and environment, and proposed policies and options. Accordingly, the rules should include expanded outreach and require that opportunities, materials, and documents be made available to non-English speaking stakeholders. Additionally, hearings should be held in easily accessible locations, at convenient times, and, when possible, in the area concerned.”

Leah Hartung, an intern for Clean Power Lake County, stressed that improper coal ash management makes drinking water unsafe: “Since groundwater monitoring began in 2010, the groundwater at the Waukegan power plant has been found 400 times to have the contaminants related to coal ash above allowable levels. This is unacceptable. Safe drinking water is a human right, not a privilege.”

When IPCB holds its September 29-October 1 hearing—its second and final hearing on the proposed coal ash rules—Clean Power Lake County members will be there once again. We will stress the importance of adopting the strongest possible rules to protect us and residents of other communities burdened by coal ash pollution. 

Here’s how you can help: Email your comments to Clerk of the Board Don Brown by October 15.

Want background information to use to prepare written comments? Download Coal Ash Rulemaking Document by Prairie Rivers Network and Coal Ash Backgrounder by Earthjustice.

Illinois has the highest concentration of coal ash impoundments in the country.

There are two unlined coal ash ponds at the NRG Energy coal-fired power plant on Waukegan’s lakefront.

Tell Us Why “CEJA Can’t Wait”

 

We want lawmakers to know how much we want the Clean Energy Jobs Act to be enacted. We also want to promote awareness about this important bill. So we are creating a “CEJA Can’t Wait” social media campaign featuring Clean Power Lake County volunteers and supporters. 

Just picture your photo and words in a “CEJA Can’t Wait” post like this: 
 
Sample CPLC volunteer quote about CEJA
 
Will you participate in our campaign by speaking up for CEJA? It’s easy! 
  • Go to our CEJA Quote Form
  • Tell us why, for you, CEJA can’t wait.
  • Include a photo of yourself (if you are willing) to accompany your statement. 

Need a little help crafting your quote? We’ve got you covered. Download our CEJA fact sheet, including sample phrases you can personalize. 

Question? Please contact leah@faithinplace.org

We look forward to your responses!

Everybody Counts

Everyone counts in the 2020 Census.
The US Census is one time when everyone counts—babies, children, teens, adults, older adults. [Alekss/Dreamstime]
Every 10 years, the United States counts the people in this country in a process called the census. This is one time when everyone counts—babies, children, teens, adults, older adults.

The 2020 Census will provide a snapshot of America’s population—who we are, where we live, and so much more.

The census matters

Here’s why census information is vital for us and our community:

  • Determines how many representatives each state gets in Congress as well as how congressional and state legislative district boundaries are redrawn
  • Determines how more than $675 billion in federal funds are distributed yearly to more than 100 programs, including Medicaid, Head Start, block grants for community mental health services, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Helps communities plan for a variety of resident needs, including new roads, schools, and emergency services
  • Helps businesses decide where to open places to shop

Census results affect our community every day.

Think of your morning commute: Census results influence highway planning and construction, as well as grants for buses, subways, and other public transit systems.

Or think of your local schools: Census results help determine how money is distributed for the Head Start program and for grants that support teachers and special education.

The list goes on, including programs to support rural areas, to restore wildlife, to prevent child abuse, to prepare for wildfires, and to supply housing assistance for older adults.

It’s time to raise our hands  

There’s one condition: To ensure we get our fair share, we all must raise our hands and participate.

Right now, our area is trailing Illinois as a whole for completed census forms, according to the United States Census Bureau. While 66.6% of Illinois residents have completed their forms, only 60.5% of residents of the Illinois 10th Congressional District have done so. For Zion, the response is 59.1%. For Waukegan, the response is only 55.9%.

The good news is, online, phone and mailed self-responses will be accepted through October 31. Visit my2020census.gov to begin.

Visit 2020census.gov/en/contact-us.html to find out how you can speak with representatives in any of 14 languages.

Census takers will interview non-responding households in person from August 11 through October 31 in most parts of the country.

For more information, get the 2020 Census facts at a glance.

Sources: United States Census Bureau, IL Count Me In 2020

 

Celebrate Freedom, Reflect on Racism

[Tess/Unsplash photo]
On June 19, 1865, more than two years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, enslaved Black people in Texas finally learned that they were free.

Today, Juneteenth is a time to celebrate that freedom. It also is a time to reflect on what we can do to fight actively against the systemic inequities that Black communities face: police brutality, voter suppression, housing discrimination and more.

Octavius Hayes, a member of Clean Power Lake County’s steering committee, explains what’s at stake:

The accumulation of incidents of racism, police brutality and murder of so many Black and brown people over the last few years alone has clearly left an indelible mark on young people, especially young people of color. But these types of violent acts of racism and bigotry are nothing new, predating the founding of our great nation. Therefore, as a nation, as Illinoisans, and as community members of Lake County, it isn’t simply enough to expect better. We must unite to demand better, and do the work of dismantling systemic racism, to ensure the safety and dignity of all people. Otherwise, this nation is doomed to continue to repeat the same mistakes that only further divide us at a time when we should be coming together to find solutions for imminent threats to humanity—such as climate change—that transcend race, economics, and borders.

 

 

Black Lives Matter: Let’s Talk About Environmental Justice 

Environmental justice for all.
[Leah Hartung/Canva image]
By Leah Hartung

For environmentalism to be successful and complete, it must include social justice. Environmental degradation and climate change do not affect the population equally: The brunt of the burden falls on marginalized communities. With the Black Lives Matter movement sweeping the nation, sparked by the murder of George Floyd, it is necessary for environmentalists to discuss the physical as well as the social environment for Black people in the United States.

The social environment for Black people in America has long been a painful one. America has a long history of police brutality disproportionately affecting Black people. In 1927 and 1928, Black residents of Chicago constituted 30 percent of the victims of police killings, even though they only made up 5 percent of the area’s population, according to an Illinois Crime Survey cited in Smithsonian Magazine. Today, about 1 in 1,000 Black men in the United States die at the hands of the police, according to the Los Angeles Times. Black women are 1.4 times more likely than white women to be killed by the police (Los Angeles Times). Black men, according to the Washington Post, are 2.5 times more likely than their white counterparts to die during an encounter with the police, adjusting for the age of the person shot, whether the person suffered from mental illness, whether the person was attacking a police officer, and for the crime rate in the neighborhood where the shooting occurred. 

The high rate of unarmed Black Americans killed by the police causes more incidents of depression, stress, and other mental health issues among Black people, even if they did not have a direct connection to the Black Americans who lost their lives, according to a study by Boston University’s School of Health and University of Pennsylvania.

Yet it is not only the social environment that hurts black people in America. The physical environment that Black communities live in also continues to cause them harm at disproportionate rates. Black Americans face a 54 percent higher health burden from air pollution compared to the overall population, according to a study by the Environmental Protection Agency, which cited historical racism and economic inequality as major factors for the disparity. Facilities emitting particulate pollution are more likely to be in Black communities, causing Black Americans to experience more asthma, a greater likelihood of heart attacks, and premature death. According to an analysis in the New England Journal of Medicine, Black Americans are 3 times more likely to die from exposure to air pollutants than white Americans.

The higher burden of air pollution on Black communities is particularly dangerous during this pandemic. A preliminary nationwide study from Harvard University found exposure to high levels of air pollution correlated with higher mortality rates from COVID-19. This finding, coupled with health disparities and unequal access to care in Black communities, helps explain why Black residents only account for 29% of Chicago’s population—yet 52% of those testing positive and 72% of those who had died as of April 6, 2020, were Black (WBEZ). 

Additionally, because of Black communities’ fewer resources, economic disenfranchisement, and unstable housing, they are more vulnerable to climate change as it intensifies natural disasters such as heat waves, flooding, and hurricanes, said Janaya Khan, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto, in The Root. Climate change will further erode the disparity between Black and white communities.

Let us take this moment to reflect on how the environment in America is not the same for all of its citizens.

Leah Hartung is from Libertyville, Illinois, and is a rising junior at Emory University (Atlanta, Georgia) studying environmental science.

CPLC Celebrates LGBTQ Pride Month

[42 North/Pexels photo]
As a community organization committed to justice for all people, Clean Power Lake County is pleased to celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month. We gratefully acknowledge the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.

June 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of annual LGBTQ+ Pride traditions. The first Pride march in New York City was held on June 28, 1970, on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, a tipping point for the gay liberation movement in the United States.

LGBTQ+ celebrations may look a little different this year—as Americans cautiously begin to resume public life in the midst of a global pandemic; as protesters across the country call for justice in the violent death of George Floyd; as police in riot gear fire rubber bullets, pepper spray, and tear gas at protesters and rioters. Yet LGBTQ+ celebrations are as important as ever, or perhaps even more important than ever: Pride Month offers us ways to protest discrimination and violence as well as to promote the dignity, equal rights, and self-affirmation of LGBTQ+ people.

Free COVID Testing Station Opens in Waukegan

Illinois National Guard officer explains COVID-19 self-test
In an Illinois National Guard video posted on Facebook, an officer at the Waukegan testing station explains how to do the COVID-19 self-test.

A new drive-through COVID-19 testing site opened today at the vehicle emissions testing station at 2161 Northwestern Ave., Waukegan (southeast corner of Sunset and Northwestern avenues).  

Testing at this location will continue until further notice. The site is expected to be open seven days per week.

Testing facility details

  • Opening day: Sunday, May 3, 2020
  • Hours: 7 days a week, 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. or until 500 tests are completed
  • Location: 2161 Northwestern Ave., Waukegan
  • Cost: Free
  • Test results: within 4-7 days
  • More details in English
  • Mas detalles en Español

Illinois National Guard soldiers will conduct tests.

Links to government websites, news articles, and audio resources: CORONAVIRUS/COVID-19: Helpful Resources

CPLC Updates Coronavirus Resource List

[Gerd Altmann/Pixabay photo]
These continue to be challenging times. We have been social distancing and isolating for the safety of the most vulnerable in our communities since March 21. Now Gov. J.B. Pritzker has extended Illinois’ stay-at-home order through May 30.

An important modifications to the order will take effect May 1: People will be required to wear a face covering or mask when in any public space where they can’t maintain a 6-foot distance from others.

We have updated our list of links to government websites, news articles, and audio resources: CORONAVIRUS/COVID-19: Helpful Resources