MOLINE, Ill. — How prepared are you for this year's elections?
The 2022 midterms on Tuesday, Nov. 8 are gearing up to be another entry in a series of highly-divided and incredibly impactful elections in the United States and right here in the Quad Cities.
Before they mail their ballot or visit the voting booth, here's all the information Quad Citizens need to know to prepare themselves.
1) Know the important dates
Election day obviously falls on Nov. 8, but what other dates should you be aware of?
For Iowans, Monday, Oct. 24 is a key date for several actions. Voter pre-registration, whether it's in-person, mailed or online is due on that day.
Absentee ballot request forms must also be in the hands of your local elections officials by Oct. 24. Early voting begins on Oct. 19, and absentee ballots can be submitted to local elections offices through Nov. 7.
For Illinoisans, in-person and mailed voting registration ended on Tuesday, Oct. 11. Online registration is open through Oct. 23.
In-person absentee ballots can be cast at local elections offices through Nov. 7
2) Know your polling place and time
If you're voting in person on Election Day, you have to go to your assigned polling place to submit your ballots. Your polling place is based on where you live in your city.
If you live in Iowa, you can find your polling location here. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
If you live in Illinois, you can find your polling location here. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
3) Know who and what is on your ballot
It's important to be familiar with most, if not all of the positions and measures up for election every year, especially with less-publicized down-ballot elections, such as city officials and school board members, as well as direct propositions that all city, county or state residents can vote on.
Here are the sample ballots for counties in the QC area we found:
- Bureau County
- Carroll County
- Henderson County
- Henry County
- Jo Daviess County
- Knox County
- Mercer County
- Rock Island County
- Warren County
- Whiteside County
4) Understand your candidates and their history, not just buzzwords
The political climate in the U.S. this year is just as charged as it has been for the past several elections. It's important to know where your candidates stand on key issues like abortion, police reform, guns, climate change, LGBTQ+ rights and more.
In their advertisements, many candidates like to lean toward keywords and phrases like freedom, honesty, accountability and truth, but there's far more to a candidate's agenda than appealing to American values.
Primary sources include the websites of candidates and their parties, from local and state levels all the way to the national Democratic Party and GOP platforms. You can also contact campaign representatives, who will be happy to share their platform.
"So candidate information, you really need to look at that. I recommend people go to parties, the websites." Scott County Auditor Kerry Tompkins told News 8. "All that we have on our website is the list of candidates. But otherwise, we don't have backgrounds and history on candidates. So that's something that people would have to look for on their own. And again, I just encourage them to reach out to the parties and check their websites, quick, Google, whatever, to find out some information."
Politically-oriented secondary sources and nonprofits can also be valuable resources. Organizations like Ballotpedia, a national elections encyclopedia, OpenSecrets, a money-and-donations tracking database, and Politifact, a fact-checking outlet, can contain valuable information and context for candidates' claims and records.
Local news outlets are also an important resource in researching candidates, especially on the local and regional levels. Don't forget to check back here on Election Day for all of your election coverage!
However, with secondary sources, it's important to do extra verification yourself to make sure the outlet is a reputable source.
5) Always look out for misinformation
Unfortunately, misinformation is here to stay. Many candidates and other politically-active organizations push conspiracy theories, lies and inaccurate data in order to support their claims.
It's important to analyze a candidate's claims to make sure they stand up to scrutiny, not just because it speaks to their honesty and credibility, but also because it can reveal information about what a candidate's true agenda might be.
Claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 pandemic and monkeypox outbreak, and anti-vaccine information, in particular, are hot-button topics that can be signs that a candidate is worth more investigation.
Claims about crime statistics and taxes in particular are eye-catching issues that often require more context and data to fully understand than candidates will include in their platforms. In general, no political issue is simple enough to accurately communicate in even one paragraph.
"In regards to misinformation, I guess I would encourage people to either follow up with our website or with the Iowa Secretary of State's website," Auditor Tompkins added. "So that's all obviously good information, accurate information, and we want to make sure people have what they need."
By itself, understanding the history and full context of a piece of data can be enough to turn a candidate's statement into a verifiably false claim.
You can find accurate verification information right here on WQAD through our VERIFY section.
6) Do you need to bring your ID?
Depending on what state you live in, you might have to.
In Iowa, you must bring a valid photo ID when you go to vote. Valid documents include:
- A valid Iowa driver’s license or ID.
- U.S. passport.
- Military ID.
- Veterans ID.
- Voter ID card.
- Tribal ID card or document.
In Illinois, you don't have to bring your ID if you have previously voted in the state or if you provided it when you registered by mail. If you are voting for the first time in Illinois, registered to vote by mail and didn’t provide the required proof of identification with your registration, you’ll need to bring identification. Valid documents include :
- A valid Illinois driver’s license or ID.
- Utility bill.
- Bank statement.
- Government check or other government documentation of name and address.
- Student ID and (a) copy of your lease or (b) postmarked mail at your current address.