What You Need to Know to Vote in Illinois

With Trump and his administration ramping up rumors and sowing doubts in the American people about the integrity of the election, if one chooses to vote by mail, we must know how to vote in Illinois. There are less than 50 days until the Presidential election.  All Illinois registered voters are eligible to vote by mail. It is strongly encouraged for registered voters who vote by mail to apply as soon as possible and return their ballot to an early voting site instead of mailing it. Secured drop boxes will be available at every early voting site for any Vote by Mail voter to submit the signed and sealed Ballot Return Envelope. Early voting begins in all 50 wards on October 14, 2020. There are many options to register to vote in Illinois, and early voter registration starts September 24, 2020.

How Can I Register?

Please check your registration even if you think you are a registered voter! Here is the link to check your registration. You can also find your polling place by ward and precinct. https://chicagoelections.gov/en/your-voter-information.html

Other ways to register include automatic voter registration. When you visit a Secretary of State Driver License Facility, you will be asked if you want to register or update your voter registration. If you say yes, then you automatically opt into the voter registration system. You could also register online by clicking this link, https://ova.elections.il.gov/. Mail-In Registration is an option; however, applications have to be postmarked no later than 28 days before the election. Chicago also offers voter registration at early voting locations in the lead up to the election. Finally, there is a Same-Day registration. This means that in Chicago, you can register on Election Day at your polling place. If you choose this option, two forms of identification are required, one of which must include a current address.

Voting in Illinois Election Chicago DefenderWho Can Vote?

To register to vote in Illinois, you have to be a citizen of the United States, and you have to be a resident of Illinois and to have lived in your election precinct at least 30 days before the election. You have to be 18 years old on or before the next election. You cannot claim the right to vote anywhere else. Also, you cannot be serving a sentence of confinement in any penal institution due to conviction of any crime.

Key Dates

September 24- Election Board will send out Vote By Mail Ballots

September 24- Early Voting and Registration opens at  the Loop Super Site (191 N. Clark)

October 14- Early Voting begins in all 50 wards

October 18- Last day for online voter registration

October 29- Last day to apply for Vote By Mail ballot

November 3- Election Day

You can also research your ballot before going to the polls. Use the nonpartisan Illinois Voter Guide here-https://illinoisvoterguide.org/ to learn about the candidates and create a mock ballot. You can save and print out your mock ballot and bring it with you. Voting for judges is also an essential part of the election process. VoteForJudges.org reports 13 bar groups’ results, which receive information about a candidate’s performance and whether he/she is qualified to become or remain a judge. These evaluations will be available on September 15, 2020.

How To Vote

Vote early. If you are unable to vote on election day, this is an option. Early voting ballots are final, and you can also register to vote at these sites.

Vote by mail. All registered voters are eligible to vote by mail. If you wish to vote by mail, you have to apply as soon as possible. The application to vote by mail opened June 16. On September 24, the Election Board will begin to send out Vote by Mail ballots. October 29 is the last day to apply for a Vote by Mail ballot. All ballots must be postmarked by November 3, which is Election Day. It is strongly encouraged to return a Vote by Mail ballot to an early voting site. Once your ballot has been submitted to the Board of Elections, it cannot be retrieved or withdrawn.

Vote on Election Day, Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Polling place hours are from 6 a.m.-7 p.m. If you are in line by 7 p.m, you are allowed to vote. Identification is required if you are voting for the first time and have registered by mail without verification. While you do not need identification if you are voting in your home precinct, it is encouraged to bring it with you.

Due to COVID-19, every voter is required to wear a facemask that covers the mouth and nose. This also applies when visiting early sites and using the secured drop boxes. Voters in line must practice social distancing with 6 feet of space between persons in line.

For more information, please visit the Chicago Board of Elections Website.

Kelly Washington is a freelance writer living on the southside of Chicago. You can follow her on social media @ Sunrise and Sugar (Facebook) and @ BlackBFly7 (Twitter).

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