EXERCISING YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE
WHY SHOULD I VOTE?
The right to vote is a basic right of all Americans. The importance of this right cannot be
overstated. The leaders of our nation are chosen by our vote. Our elected officials are the people
who make decisions and set policies for our communities, our state, and our country. Despite its
importance, many Americans do not exercise their right to vote. While people with disabilities
make up 20% of the voting aged population, 56% of that group (about 21 million people) is not
registered to vote. If we do not register to vote and cast our vote (complete and turn in an official
ballot), we give up the chance to weigh in on who our leaders will be. We also give up the
chance to let them know who we are, what we care about and what we want them to do. There is
strength in numbers. Our elected officials pay attention to who votes and how many vote. They
understand that to be elected and stay in office they must listen to and respond to the voters. If
all people with disabilities who are eligible to vote did vote, our voices would be heard. It is time
to make our elected officials “feel the power of the disability vote”.
If these issues are important to you -
To choose where you live
Accessible, affordable housing
More job opportunities
Increased spending on disability services and supports – wherever they are needed
Protection of your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- your choice is clear: register to vote and get out to vote!
WHO CAN REGISTER TO VOTE?
There are 3 requirements:
You must be a U.S. citizen
You must be at least 18 years old by Election Day
You must have resided in the precinct for at least 30 days before the election (For
election purposes, towns and cities are divided into smaller areas called “precincts” that
are given numbers. Your precinct is decided by where you live. Where you vote - your
polling place - is decided by your precinct number.)
WHERE/ HOW CAN I REGISTER?
You can register to vote in person or by mail. In either case, you must fill out a Voter
You will need 2 forms of identification when you register, with one showing your current
address. Examples: A current photo ID (such as a driver’s license or state ID), utility bill,
bank statement, government check or paycheck.
You can register in person by going to one of the following:
County Clerk’s office
Board of Election’s office
City and Village offices
Some schools, public libraries, labor groups, civic groups, corporations
Military recruitment offices
You can also register in person when you apply for services at:
Driver’s License Facilities
Department of Healthcare and Family Services
Department of Public Health offices
Department of Humans Services offices
If you choose to register by mail, you must mail a completed Voter Registration Form to
your local election office that is postmarked before the registration period ends (to find
and print this form visit the Illinois State Board of Elections website:
www.elections.state.il.us). You must also vote in person the first time you vote if you
register by mail.
WHEN CAN I REGISTER?
To vote at the polls (meaning the polling place for your precinct), you can register
anytime except the 27 days just before an election and the 2 days after (1 day after in
Chicago) an election. *
You can also register up to 2 weeks before the election under a process called “grace
period registration and voting”. * However, if you register using this process, you can
only vote by absentee ballot – not at the polls or at an early voting site.
WHERE/ HOW CAN I VOTE?
There are 3 ways that you can vote:
By going to the polling place for your precinct on Election Day. You can call your local
election office to find out your precinct number and where your polling place is located.
By going to an early voting site before Election Day. This can be done during the 22nd
day through the 5th day before an election. * No excuses or reasons are needed. To
locate your early voting site, contact your local election office or visit the Illinois State
Board of Elections website.
You can also vote by absentee ballot.
Absentee voting can be used if you expect to be away from your county of
residence on Election Day or if you are unable to go to the polls because of a
physical incapacity, including illness
Absentee voting can be done in person or by mail
To vote absentee, you must apply to your local election office for an absentee
If you apply by mail, it must be done between the 40th day and the 5th day before
the election *
If you apply in person, it must be done between the 40th day and the one day
before the election *
If you return or complete your application in person, you can immediately vote
your absentee ballot in your local election office.
If you mail in your application, you will receive an absentee ballot in the mail.
You must complete, sign and return your absentee ballot (either in person or by
mail) to your local election office
* See insert for current dates
WHAT IS THE HELP AMERICA VOTE ACT OF 2002 (HAVA)?
HAVA is a federal law that affects every part of the voting process – from voter registration to
voting machines to poll worker training. Its purpose is to include as many citizens as possible in
the voting process, to attract new voters and to increase voter turn out. Many of HAVA’s
requirements are aimed at making the voting process more accessible for people with disabilities.
For example, at least one voting machine per polling place - that did not enable voters with
disabilities to vote privately and independently before - must enable them to do so now. This is
just one of the increased accessibility standards for voters with disabilities. In addition, voting
materials must be available in alternative formats.
HAVA requires states to give a “provisional” ballot to any voter who is not on the official
registration list, whose eligibility to vote is in question, or who does not have the required
identification. These ballots must be counted according to state law. States must also have a toll-
free number or website where voters who cast a provisional ballot can check to see if their vote
was counted and, if not, why their vote was not counted. HAVA provides for “second chance”
voting, so that if an election authority notifies a voter of a possible error, the voter can verify his
or her vote and correct any error. HAVA also requires every state to have and publish a Voter’s
Bill of Rights at every polling place.
WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS WHEN I VOTE?
In addition to rights created by HAVA, voters in Illinois have the following rights:
You can vote at any time between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. If you are in line
when the polls close at 7:00 p.m., you have the right to vote.
If you lose or damage your voter registration card, you have the right to get a new one.
If you cannot enter a polling place because it is not accessible, you can request to vote
outside of the polling place (up to 50 feet away from the entrance). This is called
curbside voting. However, to do this you must make a request to your local election
office at least one day before the election.
If you cannot read or write, or if you have a disability, you have the right to get help from
any person you choose when you vote (except your employer or an officer or agent of
If you have moved within the same precinct or you have changed your name within 28
days of an election, you have the right to vote after you sign an affidavit.
If you have moved to a different election district or precinct in the State within 30 days of
an election, you have the right to vote in your new polling place.
If you make a mistake or “spoil” your ballot, but you haven’t cast (turned in) your ballot,
you have the right to receive another ballot.
No one can try to influence your vote within 100 feet of the polling place.
If you have been convicted of a crime, but have served your sentence –including any
probation or parole -and have since registered to vote, you have the right to vote.
WHAT IF I HAVE A PROBLEM?
If you experience any problems when you go to register or to vote, there are places you can
contact for help:
Equip for Equality
Chicago office: 800-537-2632
Rock Island office: 800-758-6869
Springfield office: 800-758-0464
Carbondale office: 800-758-0559
TTY number (all offices): 800-610-2779
Your County Clerk or Board of Elections Commissioner
(A complete listing of county clerks/election commissioners and their contact information
is available on the Illinois State Board of Elections website: www.elections.il.us).
Illinois State Board of Elections
Chicago: 312-814-6440; 312-814-6431 (TDD)
Springfield: 217-782-4141; 217-782-1518 (TDD)
Complaint Hotline: 866-513-1121
Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan
Chicago: 312-814-3000; 312-814-3374 (TTY)
Springfield: 217-782-1090; 217-785-2771 (TTY)
Carbondale: 618-529-6400/6401; 618-529-6403 (TTY)
REMEMBER: “VOTE AS IF YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT – BECAUSE IT DOES”