Local Groups Try to Boost Voter Turnout Among Some of Rockford’s Most Vulnerable Areas

October 16, 2018, 10:07 pm



ROCKFORD (WREX) — The election in Illinois is less than a month away and the United Way and League of Women Voters say they want to make sure voters in some of Rockford’s poorest areas have all the information they need before heading to the polls.

“We target those areas because they are the ones that need to hear it the most,” Gina Meeks, the Labor Engagement Manager with United Way of Rock River Valley says. “They are the areas that have such a low voter turnout.”

In the 2016 election, the Rockford Board of Elections says the turnout in the Ellis Heights area was 42 percent. Last year, that number was 12 percent.

“In consolidated elections, our turnout very rarely gets above 20 percent. Voters just don’t seem to vote in the consolidated elections,” Stacey Bixby, the executive director of the Rockford Board of Elections says.

One way the two local groups hope to boost those numbers is through a new candidate guide to give more perspective to voters. It’s the first time the organizations created a comprehensive resource to hand out to voters.

“We ask them (candidates) specific questions,” Meeks says. “Three of the same questions to all of the candidates no matter what political affiliation they area.”

Each candidate’s response is then printed into the Candidate Guide. The guide features candidates running for governor all the way down to local races like Winnebago County Board. The hope is that having that information in one location to give to voters in areas like Ellis Heights will help increase turnout in November.

“We really want to work hard to see what we can do to bring those numbers up,” Meeks says. “I think being educated and knowledgeable will help.”

The United Way says some candidates like Bruce Rauner, Erika Harold and Kwame Raoul are not in that guide because they did not respond to the surveys sent out. The group plans to start handing out these guides to Rockford Housing Authority properties later this week. You can also access that guide here.




Andi TenBarge