Don't like to read?
Every four years, American citizens cast their ballots to elect the next President of the United States on the first Tuesday of November. In 2020, the first Tuesday is November 3.
This year the coronavirus pandemic changed the way ballots are cast. In pre-COVID America, the majority of states exclusively used in-person polling sites. Absentee voting did occur, but some states required acceptable excuses before a mail-in ballot was sent to a voter.
Once COVID hit, it became apparent changes in how Americans cast their ballots. Using mail-in voting seemed to be a logical solution for keeping voters safe for infection.
Since all states have a system in place to accommodate ballots sent by mail, it would not be difficult to update their policies. Prior to this election, five states already used universal mail voting. Now, voters in an additional four states and Washington DC will automatically receive ballots in the mail. Thirty-six states will mail out ballots without excuse if an application is completed — Illinois included. The remaining five states only allow voters absentee ballots with a valid excuse.
The Illinois State Board of Elections website is easy to navigate. The image to the left illustrates the links voters need to find answers to their voting questions.
Upon entering the site, there is a pop-up for completing the 2020 Census. Take the time to complete the survey, if not previously submitted.
The number of Congressional seats in Washington is allotted using census data. Uncounted households will affect the political representation of the federal, state, and local levels. Funding for schools, public transportation, even food banks are reliant on the census counting every person in America — no questions can be asked about citizenship status.
Important Dates and Deadlines
- Voter registration: The mail-in or in-person voter registration deadline has passed (October 6). The online registration option is open through Sunday, October 18.
- Request a mail-in ballot: The last day to request a mail-in ballot is October 29.
All voters are eligible to receive a mail-in ballot without giving an excuse.
- Return a mail-in-ballot: All ballots must be postmarked on or before November 3. The ballots can be dropped off at designated locations — the list can be found on the elections website.
- Last day for mail-in ballots to arrive at local election offices to be counted: November 17. Ballots arriving after this date will not be counted in Illinois.
Statewide Early In-Person Voting Period: September 24 – November 2.
- Last day for grace period registration: November 3.
- In-person voting: On November 3, the polls are open from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. CDT.
Typically, voters in Illinois do not need identification when casting their ballots in person. However, be prepared to have at least two valid IDs to present if needed. Here are the reasons an ID will be requested:
- One form of ID with the voter’s current address is needed; when election Judges challenge the person’s right to vote, or if the voter submitted a mail-in registration form that did not have an Illinois identification/driver’s license number or Social Security number.
- Two forms of ID are needed when the voter is registering in person, including in the voter’s home precinct on Election Day. If the voter is changing their address or name including in the voter’s home precinct on Election Day, two forms of ID will be required.
- One of these two IDs must list the voter’s current address.
Voter’s advocacy groups and community leaders always say, “this is the most important time to vote — ever.” That is true, especially for presidential elections. It is important to plan how and when to vote, then follow through and cast a vote.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
Chicago Elections Website
Chicago Elections: Accessibility/Voters with Disabilities
Illinois State Board of Elections Website
Chicago Sun-Times: How to vote in the November election in Illinois
Chicago Sun-Times: Illinois 2020 Election Voting Guide (Interactive)
Featured Image Courtesy of Leslie Andrachuk’s Pixabay Page – Creative Commons License