Skip Election Day Hassles: Vote Early or By Mail

Written by John Biver

President Ronald Reagan called voting a “the most sacred right of free men and women.” Sacred or not, less-than-sacred stuff often happens on Election Day, preventing even those with the best of intentions to leave their ballot uncast. Work or family matters get in the way, the long lines at the polling place common in a presidential election year serve as a big deterrent, and yes — sometimes people just plain forget to vote.

Here’s the good news — Election Day issues can be avoided by voting early – or by mail.

Early Voting

To vote early, merely find the designated early voting location managed by your local election authority. In Illinois, each of the 102 counties and these 6 cities have their own election authority: Bloomington, Chicago, Danville, East St. Louis, Galesburg and Rockford.

You can find the entire list here at the State Board of Elections website.

What is early voting? Why do we have early voting? Who can vote early in Illinois? When can early voting occur? All of those answers are provided here:

  • Registered voters may cast a ballot prior to Election Day without having to provide a reason for wanting to vote early. This ballot is cast by personal appearance at the office of the election authority or at an Early Voting Center.
  • A major reason for early voting is to encourage greater participation in the election process. People who travel for business, work long hours or are otherwise inconvenienced by the hours the polls are open on Election Day may find it easier to vote early.
  • Any qualified voter may vote prior to Election Day at any site established for early voting by the election authority.
  • The period for early voting begins the 40th day preceding an election and extends through the end of the day before Election Day.

It’s done at your convenience.

1. Find the location.

Find your jurisdiction’s early voting locations – again, the Board of Elections has made it easy with this page.  (When the jurisdiction’s link hasn’t been updated to the fall election, visit their homepage to find the right information.

2. Note the dates early voting starts and ends.

Early voting began on February 6th at the office of the election authority and any temporary locations that they designate. The last day you can vote early is March 16th, which is the day before Primary Election Day.

3. Go and vote.

Note: “State law requires that a registered voter show valid photo identification before early voting. Voters casting an early ballot must display a current driver’s license, a state-issued ID card or another government-issued ID with a photograph.”

Vote By Mail

Voting by mail is accomplished by following three easy steps:

1) Request a ballot (fill out the Vote By Mail Application) by either requesting one be mailed to you or by visiting your local election authority and requesting one. Applications are being taken now and will be mailed out to those requesting one.

2) Fill it out. Vote!

3) Mail it to YOUR LOCAL ELECTION AUTHORITY (Must be postmarked by March 16th).

If you can’t decide whether to vote early at a designated early polling place or voting my mail, consider this: Voting by mail also gives parents the opportunity to have their children witness the filling out of the ballot, say at the kitchen table. The importance of voting can be instilled, and they can see what the process looks like up close.

So you’re now without excuse. Vote early. Vote by mail. Vote on election day, March 17th.


IFI is hosting our annual Worldview Conference on March 7th at the Village Church of Barrington. This year’s conference is titled “Thinking Biblically About Our Corrosive Culture” and features Dr. Michael Brown and Dr. Rob Gagnon. For more information, please click HERE for a flyer or click the button below to register for the conference.