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Ballot Drop Boxes Provide a Second Option for Students to Turn in Their Mail-In Ballots

Kayleigh Padar | The PhoenixWith students in Illinois already starting to receive their mail-in ballots, The Phoenix looks into how students can use ballot drop boxes to turn in their mail-in ballots.

Illinoisans are gearing up for the Nov. 3 election as more than two million people have applied to vote by mail as of Oct. 6 and ballots started being sent out on Sept. 24, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

With this massive influx of mail-in ballots, both Chicago and suburban Cook County join a number of counties and states across the nation to set up ballot drop-boxes so voters have an option to submit their ballots directly instead of using the U.S. Postal Service.

Starting Oct. 14 in Chicago, students and residents will be able to submit their ballots to any early voting location within the city between 8:30 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. on weekdays and 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekends. 

If voters wish to submit their ballots outside of these hours, the city has a 24-hour ballot box located at 69 W. Washington St. that opened Sept. 28. The closest early voting sites to Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus are the Broadway Armory (5917 N. Broadway), and New Field Elementary School (1707 W. Morse Ave).

In suburban Cook County, voters may submit their mail-in ballot to the voting precinct where they’re registered or at the drop boxes at Union Station (225 S. Canal) and the Cook County Clerk’s Office (69 W. Washington St.) in Chicago. The hours of these locations are typically the same as those in Chicago, the Phoenix previously reported.

In both Chicago and suburban Cook County, these boxes are monitored and emptied at the end of each day by a nonpartisan official. If voters are submitting their ballots within two weeks of the election, it’s recommended by the City of Chicago that voters use the boxes.

Vivian Mikhail, Office of Civic Engagement Program Coordinator for Communications and Events,  said the main reason students might choose to use the boxes is to avoid using the U.S. Postal Service and submit their ballot directly to the Election Office. 

“One reason why students would want to use a drop in one of those secure drop boxes is that they can skip using the US Postal Service,” Mikhail said. “[The US Postal Service] did come out earlier this year due to COVID-19, and kind of gave everybody a warning that due to lack of funding, [and] because of COVID-19 there might be some delays.”

She also said that if students are worried about getting their ballot in on time, they might consider using a ballot drop-box. 

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