How To Evaluate Your Options To Vote This November

In Illinois, the three options are vote by mail, vote early in person or vote in person on Election Day.

How To Evaluate Your Options To Vote This November

In Illinois, the three options are vote by mail, vote early in person or vote in person on Election Day.

As Election Day approaches, you may be asking yourself, exactly what my options are for voting, and which one is best for me? WBEZ offers this guide to help you decide.

In Illinois, you have three main options: vote by mail, vote early in person or vote in person on Election Day.

If you choose the mailed ballot route, you will have two options for submitting it to your local election authority: by standard mail or a specially designated drop box.

Vote by mail

Early voting

Voting on Election Day

Are there any prerequisites?

You need to be registered and have requested a mail-in ballot by Oct. 29.

No — you can register in person.

No — you can register in person.

Will I avoid COVID-19 exposure?

Yes.

If you time your vote correctly, you may be able to avoid lines and reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure.

Lines on Election Day are most likely to be long, so seeing other people and risking exposure is most likely if you’re voting on Election Day.

What’s my deadline?

Election officials say to drop off or mail your ballot as soon as possible, but your vote counts as long as it’s postmarked by Election Day.

Super sites are open now. Early voting in Chicago neighborhoods beyond downtown starts on Oct. 14 and ends on Nov. 2.

Nov. 3.

How much time will it take me?

Little to no time. Fill out your ballot at home and drop it off.

It depends — the more early voting sites open, the less wait time.

It depends — but you’re most likely to face long lines if you’re voting on Election Day.

Is there a chance my vote won’t count?

It will count if postmarked by Nov. 3. If you mail your ballot too close to Election Day, USPS delays may not get your ballot in to be counted on time. This New York Times article lays out the ideal time frame for voting by mail in each state.

No.

No.

How do I do it?

We put together a step-by-step guide here.

See below.

See below.

In-person early voting

If you live in Chicago, you can vote early at the Super Loop Site at the corner of Clark and Lake Streets (191 N. Clark St.). Since it’s the only early voting site that will be open the first two weeks of October, you may want to budget for extra time.

The line stretched around the block on the first and second day of early voting. The site closed out its first night, Oct. 1, with 1,486 votes cast.

Early voting sites will open at the ward level on Oct. 14. Each ward will have one early voting site from Monday-Friday - 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday & Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

You can also register in person at one of the early voting sites. You will need to bring two forms of ID (examples here). You have until Oct. 18 to register online, otherwise you will need to do it in person.

Remember that if you asked for a mail-in ballot, but decide you want to vote in person after all, you’ll need to bring your mail-in ballot with you and turn it in. Otherwise, you may have to sign an affidavit and your vote will be provisional.

Voting in person on Election Day

First, check here to make sure you are registered to vote already. If you aren’t, you can register online here until Oct. 18. You can also register in person on Election Day. You will need to bring two forms of ID (examples here).

Then, on Election Day, head to your polling place, which you can find here, and cast your ballot. As long as you’re in line by the time your polling place closes (usually 7 p.m.) you should be allowed to vote. Sometimes when polling places open late, they get extended hours. Those hours should be posted at the entrance.

Claudia Morell covers city politics for WBEZ. Follow her @claudiamorell.