By Paul Gorski
Our next election day is Tuesday, Nov. 4. Please vote and let your voice be heard. I will highlight here how to register to vote and how to vote early.
For those new to the area, we have two local election authorities. The Rockford Board of Election Commissioners serves Rockford residents. That election office is at 301 S. Sixth St., Rockford. The telephone number is (815) 987-5750. The Winnebago County Clerk, at 404 Elm St., Suite 104, Rockford, serves voters outside of Rockford in Winnebago County. The county clerk’s phone number is (815) 319-4252. Contact these offices with your election questions.
You cannot vote if you are not registered — register now. You may register to vote at the offices listed above or online at https://ova.elections.il.gov/ or download a voter registration form at http://winnebago.il.clerkserve.com/wp-content/uploads/R-19.pdf. The last date to register using the online service or downloaded form is Oct. 7 (the form must be received by Oct. 7).
Both offices will hold grace period registration and voting from Oct. 8 to Nov. 4. Grace period registration is your last chance to register before an election. If you have not registered by Oct. 7, you may register to vote during this period, but you must vote at the same time. You will register, then vote right away. Bring at least two pieces of identification.
For those registered voters who want to avoid the election day rush and vote early, you may request an absentee ballot to vote early, or you may vote early at the election offices listed at the beginning of the article. I recommend voting in the offices, if possible. Early voting, in office, begins Oct. 20 and ends Nov. 2. During this time, both election offices allow early voting during normal business hours. In addition, both offices will offer early voting hours on the weekend. Call your election office to confirm weekend voting dates and times.
But who am I voting for, you ask? Rockford voters may download a sample ballot at http://voterockford.com/media/9295/publication_complete_specimen_ballot_-_general_-_2014.pdf. Winnebago County residents may download a sample ballot at http://winnebago.il.clerkserve.com/wp-content/uploads/Final%20List%20of%20Candidates.pdf. Please note these links will take you directly to downloadable PDF files. You may also obtain sample ballots at your local election office.
I urge you to meet the candidates, if possible. You will have the chance to meet and listen to the candidates for Winnebago County sheriff, Bob Springer (D) and Gary Caruana (R), on Wednesday, Oct. 8, at Rockford University Clark Arts Center/Maddox Theatre, 5050 E. State St., Rockford. The debate runs from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Get there early to speak with the candidates. Do not rely on postcards or commercials to sway your vote: speak with the next sheriff.
Paul Gorski (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Cherry Valley Township resident who also authors the Tech-Friendly column seen in this newspaper.
From the Sept. 24-30, 2014, issue