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Thursday’s the deadline for sending in your mail-in ballot application. If you miss it, here are some options.

Thursday, October 29, 2020
Chicago Tribune
by Dan Petrella

Everyone from politicians to movie stars to professional athletes has been encouraging you to make a plan to vote in Tuesday’s election.

But what if you’ve put that off until now?

 

Thursday is the deadline for your local election authority to receive your application for a mail-in ballot, although for weeks officials have been encouraging voters to send them in sooner.

Don’t expect to get yours in on time? Don’t fret. You still have options.

If you’d like to vote by mail, you have a couple of choices.

First, if your local election jurisdiction accepts online applications, you can submit one before 5 p.m. Thursday. But that doesn’t guarantee you’ll receive your ballot in time to fill it out and have it postmarked, place it in a secure drop box or hand-deliver it to your local election authority’s office by Election Day.

 

Your other option is to go to your local county clerk’s office or election authority to request a mail-in ballot in person. The deadline to do that is Monday. Just be sure to complete your ballot and place it in the mail or a designated drop box or return it to your local election office by Tuesday.

Ballots returned by mail and postmarked by Election Day should be counted as long as they’re received by Nov. 17.

Still, given that election officials encouraged voters to submit vote-by-mail applications by Oct. 15 to make sure they could be mailed out in time, your best bet may be to make other plans for casting your ballot.

If you’ve requested a mail-in ballot but not received it, you can still vote in person at an early voting site through Monday or at your local polling place or a designated central voting site on Election Day. You will be asked to sign an affidavit attesting that you have not received a mail-in ballot. If you receive the ballot by mail after voting in person, you must discard it. Sending it in could subject you to a Class 3 felony charge.

For the first time, any suburban Cook County voter also can cast a ballot on Election Day at special polling sites in Union Station and the suburban courthouses in Skokie, Rolling Meadows, Maywood, Bridgeview and Markham.

Misplaced your ballot after receiving it in the mail? You can sign an affidavit at an early voting site or Election Day polling place and will be allowed to cast a provisional ballot, which will be counted once it’s confirmed that your ballot was not returned by mail.

If you still have your mail-in ballot but decide you’d rather vote in person, bring it with you to a polling place and surrender it to the election judge. You’ll then be permitted to cast a regular ballot.

And if you sent in your ballot but your local election authority’s online tracking system isn’t showing it’s been received, check with the office to make sure. Cook County election officials have advised suburban voters who are concerned to cast a provisional ballot in person. The State Board of Election advises voters in other jurisdictions to check with local officials on how to proceed if they can’t verify the status of their ballot.

Even if you’re way behind and haven’t registered to vote or updated your address, it’s still not too late.

While online voter registration is now closed for this election, you can still register or change your address and cast a ballot in person at an early voting site or at designated sites on Election Day as long as you’ve lived in your current location for 30 days before the election. You’ll just need two forms of ID, including one with your current address. That can include first-class mail, such as a utility bill, bank statement or letter from a government agency.

In Chicago and suburban Cook County, voters can use grace period registration at early voting sites or at their home precinct polling place on Election Day.

Dan Petrella

A Lombard native, Dan Petrella has written for newspapers from Chicago to Carbondale. Before joining the Tribune in 2017, he was Springfield bureau chief for Lee Enterprises newspapers. He's also been an editor and reporter at The State Journal-Register in Springfield. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


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