Where, when and how to vote this election cycle

Samira Kassem

Early voting is located at Grossinger Motors Arena in Downtown Bloomington and election day voting will be located at the Shirk Center.  
Photo: Samira Kassem

It is almost hard to believe, but our country is less than a month away from the 2020 general election to be held on November 3. 

Many students on campus can agree that voting is extremely important. 

“Voting is the only way that citizens can actually make a change and hold politicians accountable. Voting is key to any democratic system and if people don’t vote then our democratic systems will fail” senior political science major Andrew Zienty said. 

Adjunct Professor of Political Science Zoe Bouras is urging her students to get out and vote this election.

“Exercising one’s right to vote is among the most impactful ways for individuals to influence the system that governs them. Using your voice and submitting your ballot on Election Day makes you a part of something bigger than yourself, and it is an invaluable and irreplaceable contribution to democratic stability” Bouras said.

With the obvious political unrest in our country, paired with the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is, rightfully, a lot of confusion about where, when and how to cast your ballot. 

Do not worry, we are committed to ensuring that voting is accessible to all and that no ballot is left uncast as a result of confusion when it comes to how to vote. 

Who can vote?

All United States citizens who will be over the age of 18 on November 3 are eligible to vote in this election. 

If you have a birthday on November 2 and will be turning 18 this year, you may vote. You may even early vote or mail in your ballot before your birthday.  

What will I be voting for? 

For those that are living on campus or within the City of Bloomington, a sample ballot can be found here

You may vote for one option under each of the questions and your ballot will still be counted if you choose to leave certain options blank. 

The first question will ask whether you vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the proposed amendment to the Illinois Constitution. This is the Fair Tax question that is discussed here and here

The second question will ask you to make a selection for president and vice president of the United States. 

Next, you are asked to make a selection for the United States Senator. 

There is then a question of the United States House of Representatives. If you are located on or near campus you will be voting in the 13th district. 

For the question of the state general assembly, those on or near campus will be voting in the 88th district. 

The McLean County questions for an auditor, state’s attorney, circuit clerk and corner will be the same for anyone living in the county. 

For the County Board, students living on or near campus will likely be voting in the seventh or eighth district, but exact maps to help you determine this can be found here

The final section of your ballot will ask you to vote for a judge for the 11th judicial circuit. The final questions are confusing, but all they are asking is whether the judges in circuit court positions deserve to keep their jobs. 

Obviously, we cannot here cover every county in the country, but resources and sample ballots are often accessible via the County Clerk or Board of Elections website for each respective county. 

We urge you to find a sample ballot before you go to booths so that you can research candidates and decide which you would like to vote for. For guidance, all candidates will have their party listed beside them on the ballot. 

If you vote you get a cool sticker too. 
Photo: Samira Kassem

When/How/Where do I vote?

There are many options for voting in order to accommodate all different situations of voters.

If you are not a permanent resident of McClean County you may request an absentee ballot to vote in your home districts. In Illinois, the deadline to request one is October 29 and the information on how to do that can be found here

If you live outside of Illinois, you will need to contact your local election authority, which can usually be done by a quick google search, and confirm the deadline for requesting an absentee ballot. 

Absentee ballots are only for those who will be away from their home district on election day. 

Those who wish to vote by mail but do not need an absentee ballot should fill out the application here before October 29. Both absentee ballots and vote by mail ballots must be postmarked for before midnight on November 3 to be counted. The Bloomington ballot drop box locations can be found here

In order to register to vote prior to going to the polls, you should go here. You must be registered before you can request an absentee or vote by mail ballot.

 In the state of Illinois, there is same-day voter registration. This means that if you are not registered, or are registered elsewhere, you may show up to the polls and register the same day that you vote. In order to do this, you should bring a valid ID or passport, and a piece of mail addressed to you, proving your on-campus address. 

If you register to vote here, however, you will no longer be registered in your home district. 

Early voting is available now through election day at Grossinger Motors Arena in downtown Bloomington. The schedule for early voting can be found here

If you still wish to vote on election day, you should be prepared to potentially stand in a long line. In-person election day voting will take place at the Shirk Center between 6am and 7pm. You should bring your voter registration card or documents for same-day registration if you are not already registered to vote in this district. If you are in line when polls close at 7pm, they are legally required to allow you to still vote so do not get out of line. 

Whether you choose to vote by mail or in person, early or on election day, or in your home district or with your campus address, make sure you get out and vote at some point between now and November 3. 

Personally, I voted a few days ago and it took no more than 15 minutes. 

Anyone who has further questions about voting can reach out to the Argus at [email protected] and we will be happy to help you find the resources you need.