Early Voting for Presidential Primary Opens Feb. 15 in Downtown Chicago

Students can check early voting requirements and registration status at Vote.org. 

Early voting for the presidential primary election will open Feb. 15 at 9 a.m. in downtown Chicago at the Board Supersite, the headquarters for all Chicago voting sites located at 191 N. Clark St, according to Alderwoman Maria Hadden’s newsletter.

All Chicago voters are eligible to vote at any early voting site in Chicago regardless of where they reside in the city. Early voting sites in all 50 wards of Chicago will open March 4 at 9 a.m.

Voters can confirm their voter registration on the Chicago Board of Elections Commissioners’ website prior to voting. By entering their name, address and zip code, voters can access their voter registration, locate their precinct polling place, view sample ballots and verify the status of Vote By Mail requests.

Early voting outside the state of Illinois is dependent on specific state guidelines. Voters from out of state can check early voting requirements at Vote.org

If Chicagoans want to use Vote By Mail ballots, applications are open now and must be submitted by 5 p.m. March 14 for the March 19 presidential primary election. The city of Chicago began sending out Vote By Mail ballots Feb. 9, according to the Chicago Board of Elections Commissioners’ website. An email will be sent when the recipient’s ballot is mailed.

Those choosing to vote by mail must select a party ballot type for the approaching election, according to Hadden’s newsletter. Ballot types include Democratic, Green, Libertarian, Republican and non-partisan, which can only be used in a referendum. Voters may only choose one ballot type and can’t vote multiple party ballots, according to the Illinois Election Code

Voters can also choose to have their ballots mailed in English, Spanish, Chinese, Hindi, Polish, Korean or Tagalog. 

Amber McCormack, a third-year student and project manager of Loyola Votes, said the Loyola Votes website contains all the resources students may need to vote. The website allows students to register to vote, verify their registration and view important deadlines for upcoming elections. Loyola Votes also provides stamps and envelopes for students who need to print out voting materials and mail them.

All resources provided by Loyola Votes are accessible for students choosing to vote in any of the 50 states, not only Illinois, according to McCormack.

McCormack said voting in elections like the upcoming presidential primary is important to her because smaller elections are often overlooked. She said she believes they can often be the elections that bring about the most change. 

“College students make up a really large portion of the voting bloc,” McCormack said. “It’s really important that they go out there and express what they want to see for their own future.”

In the 2020 presidential election, 66% of enrolled college students voted, which exceeded the 52% of college students who voted in the prior election, according to research done at Tufts University. The research states the percentage of college voters is about the same as the national voting rate, which is 67%. 

Cameron Baltrum, a second-year political science student at Loyola, said voting and political advocacy have always been important to him since he is gay. He said he votes to ensure the officials being elected will speak up for him and his values in government. 

“For many students, including myself, I think it’s that important voice that we maybe didn’t have in years previous,” Baltrum said. “We were all kind of children then, you know? Being on our own, this is our first opportunity to kind of do something that matters not just for ourselves but for other people.”

Scotty Monteith, a third-year environmental policy student at Loyola, said he believes getting young people to vote can often be difficult because many young people feel their vote isn’t represented in candidates elected to office. 

Monteith said he thinks voting should be treated like an obligation, or a “chore,” like washing the dishes. He said voting shouldn’t be exciting, but it needs to be done in order to uphold civic duty. 

McCormack said she encourages Loyola students to know where they plan to vote prior to the election. Out-of-state students can choose to register to vote in Illinois or in their home state, depending on what location is more accessible to them, according to McCormack. 

“You also want to make sure that you’re requesting an absentee ballot if you may need it and you know where your polling precinct is,” McCormack said. “So that you know how to make sure you actually cast that ballot.” 

Illinois citizens and out of state citizens can register to vote, verify their registration and find their polling location at Vote.org.

Featured image by Austin Hojdar / The Phoenix

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