FAQ about the November 3, 2020 Election

Reform for Illinois is working with Promote the Vote, a nonprofit, nonpartisan coalition made up of organizations and community groups dedicated to ensuring everyone can safely cast a ballot in November. As part of our voter education efforts, Promote the Vote has developed the following Frequently Asked Questions to help people navigate their options this fall. 

Please share this resource freely with those who might benefit from it. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I registered to vote in Illinois?

You can check here.

How do I register if I’m not?

You can register online here or at any early voting site.

Why are there so many voting options for the Nov. 3 election?

We can’t predict the effects of COVID-19 on Election Day — but we don’t want to repeat the primary election experience in many places, where voters were forced to stand in long lines, risking their safety to participate in our democracy. The more people who choose vote by mail or early in-person voting, the smaller the crowds on Election Day. That’s safer for voters and poll workers alike.

How do I vote by mail?

You may already have received a ballot application in the mail. If not, you can request one here if you live in Chicago. Cook County voters go here. If you live elsewhere in Illinois, go here. Ballots will be mailed to voters beginning Sept. 24.

How do I know my mail ballot was received and counted?

If you live in Chicago and apply for your ballot online OR if you use a paper application and provide an email address, you will receive an email with a tracking link. All others can track their ballot here.

If you live in suburban Cook County and apply online you’ll get an email when your application is received and when your ballot is on its way to you. After you mail it back, you’ll be notified when it is received and processed for counting. You can also get notifications by using this email signup tool. Or you can track your ballot here.

What if there’s a problem with my ballot?

If there’s a problem — a mismatched signature, for example, or if the envelope arrives unsealed — elections officials will contact you to resolve it.

Is voting by mail susceptible to fraud?

There are multiple safeguards in place to prevent fraud. Once an application has been received, subsequent applications by the same voter will be rejected. Before a ballot is mailed, election officials compare the signature on the application to the signature on file. When you mail your ballot back, your signature on the outside of the envelope will be matched against the signature on file with the board of elections, just as it is when you vote in person.

Studies have found that Vote By Mail fraud is exceedingly rare. (It’s also a felony.)

What about the postal delays in the news?

While you can request a mail ballot as late as Oct. 29, that’s cutting it awfully close.  Better to request one now and return it promptly. The U.S. Postal Service recommends allowing at least 15 days for the ballot to be received.

If you don’t trust the mail or if it’s getting close to Election Day, you can take your ballot to a drop box instead.

Beginning Oct. 9, Suburban Cook voters can use the drop box at 69 W. Washington St., Chicago, or at one of five regional courthouses (Rolling Meadows, Skokie, Maywood, Bridgeview and Markham). Drop boxes will also be at more than 50 early voting sites throughout the county beginning Oct. 19. An updated list can be found here.

Chicago voters can use the super site at 191 N. Clark St. beginning in late September (target date is Sept. 24). Other sites open by Oct. 14. A complete list will be published here in September.

Are those drop boxes secure?

Yes. Ballots can be dropped off during voting hours. Drop boxes are emptied and ballots are collected daily. Ballot envelopes will be stamped with the time, date and location before being deposited, and attendants will make sure the envelope is signed. The boxes will be locked shut overnight. If your local election board doesn’t provide drop boxes, you can turn in your mail ballot at the County Clerk or local election authority. You can find those locations here.

Can someone deliver my ballot for me?

Yes. A voter can authorize any person to return their ballot to the election authority. Just complete and sign the affidavit on the return envelope.

What if I requested a mail ballot but didn’t receive one?

You can still vote at an early voting site or in your precinct on Election Day. You will be asked to sign an affidavit saying you didn’t receive your ballot.

What if I requested a mail ballot but changed my mind?

You can surrender your mail ballot at an early voting site or at your precinct on Election Day and vote in person. If you have lost your ballot, you will be asked to sign an affidavit and vote provisionally.

When and where is early voting?

Suburban Cook voters can cast ballots beginning Oct. 9 at the county building, 69 W. Washington St., Chicago, or at one of five regional courthouses (Rolling Meadows, Skokie, Maywood, Bridgeview and Markham). Other sites open Oct. 19. An updated list of Cook County sites can be found here.

Chicago voters can use the super site at 191 N. Clark St. beginning in late September (target date is Sept. 24). Other sites open by Oct. 14. A complete list will be published here in September.

Outside of Cook County, check here.

Early voting hours are 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends through Nov. 2.

What about Election Day?

You can look up your polling place here. Hours are 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 3. (If you are in line at 7 p.m., you are entitled to vote.)

Is in-person voting safe?

Multiple precautions will be taken. Voters will be asked to wear a face mask that covers the mouth and nose and to maintain a distance of 6 feet when standing in line. Voting sites will be disinfected regularly, and personal protective equipment will be available for judges and poll workers. Election Day is a state holiday this year so that government buildings will be available for socially distanced polling places. Elections judges can be as young as 16, reducing reliance on retirees, who are more vulnerable to COVID-19. But again: The more people who take advantage of vote by mail or early voting, the smaller the crowds on Election Day.

I hear there’s a need for election workers. How can I apply?

Chicago and Cook County need election judges and poll workers for both early voting and Election Day. For information or to apply, go here for Chicago and here for Cook County.

What if I have more questions?

Contact Jan Schwartz, spokesperson for Promote the Vote Illinois, at sschwa7996@aol.com.

 

Promote the Vote’s Mission

Promote the Vote Illinois is a growing non-profit, non-partisan coalition of organizations that
are working together to help navigate voting during COVID-19. We are committed to making
voting easier and more accessible for all voters, by developing printed and internet
communication tools and utilizing strategies that can reach the most disenfranchised members
of our community. Our purpose is to protect and promote the right to vote.

Promote the Vote’s Coalition Partners

Access Community Health Network * Better Government Association * Chicago Women Take Action * Citizen Action Illinois * Congregation Hakafa * Cradles to Crayons Chicago * First Ladies Health Initiative * Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization (IVI-IPO) * Jewish Community Relations Council * League of Women Voters (LWV) of Illinois * LWV Chicago * LWV Naperville *  Mikva Challenge * National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) Chicago North Shore * NCJW South Cook * Protest to the Polls * Illinois Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism * National Rainbow PUSH Coalition * Reform for Illinois * South Suburban Chicago (IL) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated

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