By Ed Marshall

The 2018 midterm Election is Nov. 6. Here are some answers to some important questions about the vote.

Q: What are the midterms?

A: It’s the halfway point of a president’s term.  Members of Congress run every two years. Observers look to the midterm races as a way to gauge a president’s popularity. Historically, the opposite party, in this case Democrats, do well.  Activists are pushing for a so-called “blue wave” of mostly female Democratic voters to turn the tables on incumbent Republican lawmakers. Some recent opinion polls show evidence that this trend is real.

Q: Will there be a Kavanaugh Effect?

A:  Neither U.S. senator who voted on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court are up for re-election here in Illinois. (Both Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth opposed Kavanaugh.) Yet polls show women voters are more energized over the sex harassment allegations against Justice Kavanaugh. GOP officials say their ability to rescue Kavanaugh’s appointment and get the final OK could excite GOP voters to come out on election day. It’s telling that here in Illinois, Republicans like Du Page County congressman Peter Roskam are mostly silent while Democrats like Cheri Bustos are very vocal on this issue. Of course, Hillary Clinton won Illinois two years ago, not Trump. So this will be something to watch.

Q: How late can I register to vote?

A: Online registration at https://ova.elections.il.gov/ has expired. In-person registration continues through Election Day at any early voting site, the voters’ local election agency offices and then on Election Day at the voter’s home precinct polling place.

Q: Can I still vote early? Or by mail?

A: The deadline to apply to vote by mail is Nov. 1, but it is recommended applying sooner so that the voter has time to receive and return the ballot. In Chicago, early voting expanded from one super site to all 50 wards on Oct. 22. Similarly ,in all collar counties, early voting expands on the same date right through Election Day.

Q: Why so many ads in the race for governor?

A: You could call it the “Billionaire Effect.” When wealthy investor JB Pritzker got the nomination for governor from the Democratic Party, he began an unprecedented television ad barrage hoping to drive down the popularity of wealthy incumbent GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner. To date, Pritzker has spent an estimated $100 million most of it on broadcast advertising. Rauner has responded with nearly the same ad count in a bid to stay competitive. Total campaign spending in this race is estimated at $250 million to $300 million. Spending is at a pace to set a new national gubernatorial campaign spending record.

 Q: How can I tell if the ads are accurate?

A: CBS Chicago has launched a “Fact-Checkers” franchise. You’ll be able to find a series of  stories that pull apart some of the more outrageous claims you may be seeing in their TV ads.

Q: Some candidates like Susana Mendoza are trying to run for two offices at the same time. Is that legal?

A: In Illinois yes it is legal to capture the votes in a race in November, get sworn-in to that office in January only to seize the opportunity to run for Chicago Mayor in February.  For Mendoza, politically she faces little risk in doing so because if she loses for Mayor she still has her statewide job to fall back on. Obviously voters can figure out it’s impossible for Mendoza to work full time as Comptroller for which she’s paid $113,000 a year and campaign full-time for Mayor. The same holds for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Some voters may hold a grudge against a candidate for doing this because it suggests political opportunity over commitment to public service.

Q: Can I vote against Speaker Mike Madigan? Many of the ads blame him for all the people moving out of Illinois.

A: No. Not even if you live in Madigan’s tiny 22nd District located near Midway Airport. Madigan is running unopposed for his 24th consecutive term as a lawmaker. Where Madigan derives his power is having a stranglehold on the entire Democratic caucus of lawmakers in the House.

Q: If I want my property taxes to go down, who should I vote for?

A: Many of the well-funded candidates for statewide and congressional offices all are attacking their opponents for higher property taxes. The trouble for voters is some like Pritzker are intentionally vague on what tax reform they would support if they get elected. When it comes to taxes the best thing to do is research.

Q: I’m so glad the election is almost here. That means it’ll be over soon and all those awful, nasty TV ads will go away, right?

A: No. As the race for Chicago Mayor heats up after the holidays you can expect yet another  wave of harsh television campaign ads. In our times it’s simply a matter of fact. And there’s no point hoping these candidates can’t find you on social media. Many of these campaigns have teams of workers trying to target you the voter on social media and even the content streaming sites like Hulu.