Voting Safely in Illinois During the Pandemic - Checkexpress

Voting Safely in Illinois During the Pandemic

Election Day is on Tuesday, November 3, 2020. That’s less than a month away! “With a pandemic raging across the country and doubts in some circles about the legitimacy of mail-in ballots, navigating how to vote this year can be daunting.” Illinois voters have the option to place a mail in ballot or in person. You can also vote early. Jurisdictions may offer early voting Sept. 24-Nov. 2. Check this website for locations and the exact schedule in your area.
This year’s election goes beyond “who should be president” – your vote is your voice in the decisions being made for your county, state, and country. Did you know that your ability to vote can influence issues that affect your community? This includes housing, education, employment, and health care!

First thing’s first, are you eligible to vote in Illinois? Here are a few guidelines to be able to legally vote:

  • A U.S. citizen
  • At least 18 years old by the general election
  • A resident of your precinct at least 30 days prior to Election Day
  • Not be in jail for a felony conviction (but you can vote if you have completed your sentence)
  • Not claim the right to vote anywhere else
How will COVID-19 affect voting this year?

With so many people showing up to the voting polls, the reality of social distancing may be somewhat difficult. “Voters standing in line close to each other, handling ballots and using touch screens make for a potentially toxic stew of community transmission of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Election officials and policymakers are giving full attention to possible mitigation strategies. These include reviewing their state’s continuity of government constitutional provisions, continuity of legislatures during emergencies plans, election emergency statutes and election contingency plans at the state and local levels.” NCSL

Health officials are requesting voters cast their votes via mail-in to help reduce the risk of coronavirus outbreaks and germ contamination. Since the election is happening so quickly, it’s important to pay attention to registration deadlines in your area. The Illinois in person deadline to register is 27 days before election day. By mail deadline is based on postmarks and is 28 days prior to election day. Online registration deadline in Illinois is 16 days before election day! Do you live in a different state? Find your registration deadline read here!

How can I check if I’m registered to vote in Illinois?

Are you pretty sure that at some point in your life you registered to vote, but haven’t participated in the past few elections? No worries, you can check your registration status online! If you miss both voter registration deadlines, you may still register to vote during the Grace Period or on Election Day.

“After processing your registration application, the Clerk’s office will mail you a voter identification card with your precinct information and voting districts. You may also check your voting eligibility with our Your Voter Information search tool. If you have questions about your voting status, please e-mail  [email protected] or call (312) 603-0906.” Cook County Clerk

Online Voter’s Registration:

Illinois happens to be a state that offers online voters registration. There are a couple requirements for registering online, such as having a ID verification and a quick Q & A application. Follow these directions below…

  1. Use this Register to Vote Tool to fill out the National Voter Registration Form.
  2. Sign and date your form. This is very important!
  3. Mail or hand-deliver your completed form to the address we provide.
  4. Make sure you register before the voter registration deadline.
Update your voters registration if the following things have happened since the last election: 
  • Address changes: If you recently moved, you must transfer your registration to your new address by reregistering. You may write your new address on the back of your voter’s ID card and mail it in to the County Clerk Office.
  • Name changes: If you are changing your name but not moving (and forget to update your information with the state) you will be required to fill out an affidavit on Election Day in order to cast your ballot. Also if you haven’t updated your new name you will not be able to vote by mail.
  • Recently Married (congratulations!): Newlyweds, check out Cook County’s advice to newlyweds brochure and learn how to keep your voters registration accurate and valid. 
Mail-In Voting 101:

Illinois will mail an absentee ballot application to those who voted in Illinois in the 2018 General Election, the 2019 municipal election, or the March 17 primary election, as well as to anyone who registered to vote or updated their address after the primary election.

  • Fill out the application completely.
  • Submit the request to your local election authority. You should request your ballot as far in advance of the election as possible. The deadline to request a ballot by mail is (received by) Thursday, October 29, 2020.
  • When your ballot arrives, read it carefully and follow the instructions to complete it and return it.

WTTW News shares: Under Illinois law, a voter can request a mail-in ballot up to five days before Election Day. But the USPS warns that voters who wait until that deadline are at high risk of being disenfranchised, due to the Postal Service’s delivery capabilities. “If a voter submits a request at or near the ballot-request deadline, there is a significant risk that the ballot will not reach the voter before Election Day, and accordingly that the voter will not be able to use the ballot to cast his or her vote,” the letter states. The letter goes on to state that it is not recommending Illinois change its election laws to comport with the USPS delivery capabilities, but to inform voters about the crucial need to request ballots in a timely manner.

Click here to learn more about mail in voting in Illinois!

Voting Safely in Illinois During the Pandemic - Checkexpress
Voting In Person

If you’d rather vote the good old fashion way in person, that’s still an option as well. One of the first things you should review before heading out to vote is the polling location designated for your precinct. All you need to do is enter your zip code to find where to go!

You may be wondering: “What do I need to bring with me on Election Day?”
  • If you’ve voted in Illinois before, you don’t need to provide ID to vote.
  • If you’re a first-time voter who registered by mail, and didn’t provide your driver’s license number, state ID number, last 4 digits of your Social Security number, or a copy of a current ID or government document that shows your name and address when you registered, you’ll need to provide one of these when you vote. You can use (i) a copy of a current and valid photo identification, (ii) a copy of a lease or contract for residence, student ID & mail addressed to your residence, or (iii) a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows your name and address.
  • Voters without ID: If you are unable to provide ID, you will be able to vote a provisional ballot. After voting provisionally, you will be told how to submit additional proof of registration to the election authority. The additional information must be received by the election authority no later than the close of business on the Tuesday following the election.
Early Voting Information

Want to cast your ballot early? Illinois voters can vote before Election Day! The early period starts on Thursday, September 24 to Monday November 2, 2020. The dates and hours may vary based on where you live. Enter your location in the Illinois State Board of Elections website to find early voting/grace period registrations locations.

Voting is a right of passage for any American citizen! Checkexpress believes in our customers and in our country. We hope you realize that your vote is your voice – and every voice matters! As always, we stay committed to our community and hope you find this information useful.
We don’t have all the answers, here are some places you can contact with any additional questions…

For anything related to Chicago elections you can call the city’s Board of Election Commissioners (312-269-7900, or 312-269-0027 for the hearing impaired). The board also operates an Election Day hotline (312-269-7870).

Click here for more information about contacting Chicago election officials. Click here for answers to frequently asked questions from the Election Board. And if anyone tries to deny your right to vote at a voting booth, you can call 866 Our Vote’s election protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683).

Happy Voting! Stay Safe!