FAQs to Help Make Sure Your Vote Counts!

(Updated. Previously posted October 17, 2020)

Your vote has never been more important! That’s why we want you to understand all of your options for making sure your vote counts. Questions? You can call the Democratic Voter Assistance Hotline, 847-432-VOTE (8683). But first please click on any of our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to find out more about voting this year.

1. How can I vote?

You can vote from home with a mail-in ballot or you can vote in person during Early Voting or on Election Day.

2. When and where can I vote?

If you’ve chosen to vote from home, you can return your mail-in ballot right now. Through November 1, you can vote in person at any Early Voting polling place in your county. You also can vote in person on Election Day, November 3, at your assigned polling place.

3. What if I’m not registered to vote or not sure I’m registered in Illinois?

To find out whether you’re registered to vote in Illinois, go to tenthdems.org/ILVoterRegLookup. Or call the Democratic Voter Assistance Hotline, 847-432-VOTE (8683), and a volunteer will check for you. Through Election Day, you can register at your County Clerk’s office during business hours, or at any other place you can vote, but you’ll have to vote at the same time you register. You’ll need two pieces of identification, one of which must show your current address.

4. How do I record my votes on my mail-in ballot?

Your mail-in ballot will look just like the ballot you get when you vote in person, and you record your votes the same way:

  • Fill in the oval next to the candidate of your choice on the ballot using a regular pen with black or dark blue ink. No sharpies, please, as they may “bleed” through.
  • In Lake County, the Democratic candidates will be listed second, below the Republicans. In Cook County, Democrats are listed first.
5. What information would help me answer the YES/NO questions on my ballot?
  • The very first item on your ballot calls for a YES or NO vote on the constitutional amendment that would authorize the “Fair Tax.” Those in favor of a YES vote on the Proposed Amendment to the 1970 Illinois Constitution include AARP, League of Women Voters, Sierra Club, Personal PAC (a leading pro-choice group), and Governor JB Pritzker.
  • The last item on the back of your Lake County ballot asks whether to abolish the office of Recorder of Deeds, and we recommend a YES vote. The Democratic Lake County Clerk and the Democratic Lake County Recorder of Deeds both favor merging these two offices so that taxpayers benefit from efficiencies.
6. What information would help me decide how to vote for judges?
  • On your Lake County ballot, the four judges up for retention all originally ran as Republicans, and they consistently vote in Republican primaries. By voting NO on retention, you are voting to make sure they don’t automatically keep their seats.
  • For resources to learn about the many judges on your Cook County ballot, go to voteforjudges.org.
7. Once I’ve recorded my votes, what do I do with my mail-in ballot?

When you receive your mail-in ballot, you will find enclosed envelope(s)—one if you live in Cook County and two if you live in Lake County. One of the two Lake County envelopes will be preprinted with the address of the County Clerk. That’s the mailing envelope. The other will be preprinted with your name and address a signature line preceded by an x. That’s the certification envelope. In Cook County, a single envelope is printed with all these elements: the County Clerk’s mailing address, your name and address, and the signature line for certification. When you’ve finished voting:

  • Refold the ballot, place it in the certification envelope, and seal it.
  • Sign your name on the line next to the x on the certification envelope. Your signature is how the election officials know that you are you, just like when you go to the polls.
  • If you live in Lake County, insert the sealed certification envelope that has your ballot inside into the mailing envelope and seal the mailing envelope.
8. How do I return my mail-in ballot to my County Clerk, and what’s the deadline?

You can return your ballot to your County Clerk’s office one of three ways—you can hand-deliver it during normal business hours, mail it (Cook County’s envelope is postage-free; Lake’s takes a first class stamp), or place it in a secure drop box. It is not necessary to use Lake County’s mailing envelope if you’re putting your ballot in a drop box, but make sure the ballot is sealed inside the certification envelope.

No matter how you return your ballot, the deadline for the County Clerk to receive it is 7:00 pm on Election Day, November 3—with one exception: Any mailed ballot postmarked by November 3 will be accepted until November 17. We encourage you to return your ballot as soon as possible.

9. How do I find a secure drop box?

You can put your mail-in ballot in any drop box in the county where you’re registered to vote. During voting hours, all Early Voting locations in Cook and Lake Counties have drop boxes available inside the polling site, and you will not have to wait in line to deposit your mail-in ballot into the drop box. Both counties also offer some secure drop boxes that are outdoors and accessible 24/7. You can find the exact locations and hours of all of the postage-free secure drop boxes in your county here:

Lake County: tenthdems.org/SecureDropBoxesInLake.
Cook County: tenthdems.org/SecureDropBoxesInCook.

10. How will I know my mail-in ballot was received and will be counted?

You can track your mail-in ballot online. If you live in Lake County, go to LakeVoterPower.info, and after filling in the form, click “Track My Mail Ballot.” If you live in Cook County, go to tenthdems.org/YourCookVoterInfo, click the button, “What Is My Mail Ballot Status?” and fill in the form. When your ballot is received, the County Clerk has two days to notify you if there’s a problem with the ballot and to give you the opportunity to correct the problem.

11. When will my mail-in ballot be counted?

Most mail-in ballots will be counted on Election Night along with early votes and votes cast in person on Election Day. To be sure your mail-in vote is counted on Election Night, you should either put it in a drop box, hand-deliver it by November 2, or mail it a week or more before that.

12. What if I got a mail-in ballot but decide I’d rather vote in person?

Requesting a mail-in ballot won’t obligate you to vote from home. It just gives you the option. If you’d rather go to the polls, just bring your mail-in ballot and the certification envelope that came with it (or any parts you can find) to your polling place, turn them in to an Election Judge, and request a regular ballot to vote then and there.

13. What if I requested a mail-in ballot and never got it?

If you requested a mail-in ballot and have not received it, you can vote in person. When you check in at the polling place and explain that you did not receive your mail-in ballot, the Election Judge will give you a written statement to sign saying you didn’t receive a mail-in ballot. At that point, everything will proceed the way it always does when you vote in person and you’ll get a regular ballot.

14. Is it too late to request a mail-in ballot?

You can submit the application to request a mail-in ballot up until 5:00 pm on October 29. But in order to be counted, your voted ballot must be returned by 7:00 pm on Election Day, November 3, or postmarked no later than November 3. If you haven’t already requested a mail-in ballot, we strongly recommend that you plan to vote in person. And if you decide to request a mail-in ballot less than 10 days before Election Day (after October 24), we strongly recommend that you plan when and where you will vote in person if the mail-in ballot doesn’t arrive in time.

15. Where can I vote in person?

From October 19 through November 1, you can vote at any Early Voting location in your county, and there will be limited Early Voting on Monday, November 2. Locations and hours for Lake County are at tenthdems.org/EarlyVotingLocationsInLake. Locations and hours for Cook County are at tenthdems.org/EarlyVotingLocationsInCook. On Election Day, November 3, you can vote at your assigned polling place from 6:00 am until 7:00 pm. To find your assigned polling place, Lake County voters can go to LakeVoterPower.info and Cook County voters can go to tenthdems.org/YourCookVoterInfo, and fill in the form.

More questions? Call the Democratic Voter Assistance Hotline at 847-432-VOTE (8683).

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