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Phoenix 101: How Voting in Chicago Will Work in 2020

Katie Anthony | The PhoenixThe Broadway Armory, 5917 N. Broadway St., is one of the early voting sites in Chicago.

With the 2020 election just around the corner and the pandemic still in full swing, voting in this election will look different. Officials in Chicago are encouraging people to vote early or by mail in order to eliminate voter traffic on Election Day.

Whether this is your first time voting, or you’re a long time voter looking to cast your ballot, there are new guidelines city officials are asking people to follow due to the pandemic.

The Phoenix shares some information about voting in the upcoming election and what the new guidelines will look like.

What options do I have to vote in the next election?

Just like past elections, voters have the opportunity to vote in person with early voting or on Election Day. There will be social distancing guidelines to follow and a mask mandate for voting in person. In addition to voting in person, people also have the option to vote by mail with no questions asked, according to The Board of Election Commissioners of the City of Chicago.

Where can I early vote in the city?

All Chicago voters are able to vote at any of the locations in the 50 wards for early voting. An ID isn’t required at the voting site, but it’s helpful if there are any problems or questions with the voter’s registration, according to Chicago’s Board of Election Commissioners website

The first early voting booth to open this year was the Loop Super Site, which opened  Oct.1 at 191 N. Clark St. The city opened the rest of the voting sites in the 50 wards Oct. 14. The ward sites will be open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends and from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day.

How do I vote by mail?

People must submit their request to vote by mail to their local election attorney. Voters should request their ballot as far in advance of the election as possible, but the deadline to request a ballot by mail is Thursday, Oct. 29, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Any voter in Chicago is able to register to vote by mail ahead of the Nov. 3 election date. There is no reason or excuse that must be given to vote by mail. Chicago voters who apply online to vote by mail will receive emails to confirm the online application and with instructions on how to move forward.

Once your ballot is marked, you can return it one of three ways: through the U.S. Postal Service or a licensed courier, by personal delivery to the Election Board at 69 W. Washington St., or, this year, voters may submit their ballots directly to the Election Board via any of the Secured Drop Boxes, The Phoenix previously reported

What are Secured Drop Boxes/are they actually secure?

Those voting by mail can return their Ballot Return Envelope at any of the Election Board’s Secured Drop Boxes, or mail to return the Ballot Return Envelope. Mailings of ballots to voters, by law, began Sept. 24, according to The Board of Election Commissioners of the City of Chicago.

Each signature on the ballot is checked by a county election official to make sure it matches the way it was written on a voter’s registration record. Illinois is one of the 18 states that requires officials to contact voters when there’s a signature discrepancy or other mistakes on the ballot within two days of it being counted, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Once a voter is contacted, they have two weeks to respond and resolve the issue with state authorities. 

What precautions are being taken for in-person voting?

There will be safety precautions for early voting and voting on Election Day. Voters will be asked to wear a face mask covering both their mouth and nose and stand six feet away from people when waiting in line. 

The polls will be disinfected regularly and personal protective equipment will be available for judges and poll workers. The more who take advantage of early and mail voting will allow the polls to be less clustered on Election Day.

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