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Illinois is often touted as a “No ID state.” While IDs are not required at the time of voting (unless you are registering at that time), IDs are verified during the registration process.
When an individual registers to vote, two forms of identification must be presented, one of which showing the current residential address. The applicant must also provide either the last four digits of their social security number or their Illinois Driver’s License/State ID number. The Election Commission verifies through either the Social Security Administration or the Illinois Secretary of State’s office if the number provided is correct.
No matter how you cast your ballot, by mail, early voting, or on election day, the same process is used to verify the voter. This process is completed through signature verification. This is Illinois state law. Two election judges, one from each political party, compare the signature on file with the signature captured at the time of voting. The signature on file was captured at the time of registration. If both judges agree the signatures match, you move forward in the voting process. If the judges do not agree the signatures match, you will be asked to present identification for verification. Only one judge must disagree for a signature challenge to occur.
You can find your polling place online but you can vote at any of our 55 Polling Places on Election Day.
Illinois Election Code allows any voter to apply to receive a ballot by mail – no excuse is needed to do so. Illinois also allows voters to apply to receive a ballot every election through its Permanent Vote by Mail Program (10 ILCS 5/19-2). No voter will receive a ballot through the mail without first completing an application. Voters can complete an election specific application, meaning a ballot will be issued for the current election only, or voters can complete a permanent application, meaning a vote by mail ballot will be mailed for all elections going forward. Once an application has been received and the voter has been verified by the Election Commission, a vote by mail packet is assembled. This packet includes the ballot, specific to the voter, a secrecy envelope, a purple return envelope (specific to the voter and the election) and a white outer envelope. Printed on the purple return envelope is the voter’s name, mailing address, and a unique identifier. This unique identifier is linked to the voter and the ballot packet and is used upon return for validation.
Illinois Election Code allows vote by mail ballots to be returned through the mail or via a Drop Box (10 ILCS 5/19-6; 5/19-8). Ballots received in the mail must be postmarked by election day and can be accepted up to 14 days after the election if postmarked by election day (10 ILCS 5/19-8).
Ballots received in the mail without a postmark after election day, but prior to the 14 days after an election, will be counted if the signature certification date on the envelope falls on or before election day. If the voter failed to add a date on the signature certification and the ballot is received in the mail after election day without a postmark, then the ballot will not be counted (10 ILCS 5/19-8).
Ballots returned via a Drop Box must be inserted into a drop box prior to the closing of polls at 7 pm on Election Day. Peoria County has three convenient drop box locations (located at the Peoria County Election Commission Office, North Branch Library, and the Peoria Civic Center). These three Ballot Drop Box locations are camera monitored. The Drop Boxes are accessible 24 hours per day for Peoria County residents only. Drop Boxes provide voters with a safe and secure alternative to sending completed Vote by Mail ballots through the mail. Keep in mind that a voter can authorize another individual to drop off their ballot through completing the authorized delivery agent affidavit on the purple return envelope (10 ILCS 5/19-6).
Note that Ballot Drop Boxes are collected daily by a bi-partisan team of poll workers and returned to the Peoria County Election Commission. Keyed locks are used to prevent unauthorized access to Ballot Drop Boxes. Tamper-evident seals are also fastened over Drop Box collection doors as an added security measure. Logs are kept for each Drop Box location notating time of collection, seal numbers, and number of ballots collected.
Once a vote by mail ballot is returned, the validation process is completed by a bi-partisan team of trained poll workers. This team of poll workers completes the signature verification process by comparing the signature on file with the signature captured on the purple return envelope. The signature on file was captured at the time of registration. If both judges agree the signatures match, the secrecy envelope containing the ballot will be removed and staged for tabulation. If the judges do not agree the signatures match or if the return envelope is unsigned, the voter is notified of the challenge and given the opportunity to overturn the challenge by providing identification for verification.
If a voter receives a vote by mail ballot but would rather vote in-person for whatever reason, then the voter must surrender the vote by mail ballot to the election judges at the polling place. If they do not have the ballot to surrender, then they must vote provisionally. This provisional vote allows the Election Commission to ensure that no vote by mail ballot is received by this voter.
Any qualified voter who has been admitted to a hospital, nursing home, or rehabilitation center due to an illness or physical injury not more than 14 days before an election shall be entitled to personal delivery of a vote by mail ballot in the hospital, nursing home, or rehabilitation center subject to the following conditions:
(1) The voter completes the Application for Physically Incapacitated Elector
(2) The voter's physician, advanced practice registered nurse, or physician assistant completes a Certificate of Attending Health Care Professional
(3) Any person who is registered to vote in the same precinct as the admitted voter or any legal relative of the admitted voter may present such voter's vote by mail ballot application, completed as prescribed in paragraph 1, accompanied by the physician's, advanced practice registered nurse's, or a physician assistant's certificate, completed as prescribed in paragraph 2, to the election authority. Such precinct voter or relative shall execute and sign an affidavit furnished by the election authority attesting that he is a registered voter in the same precinct as the admitted voter or that he is a legal relative of the admitted voter and stating the nature of the relationship. Such precinct voter or relative shall further attest that he has been authorized by the admitted voter to obtain his or her vote by mail ballot from the election authority and deliver such ballot to him in the hospital, home, or center. (10 ILCS 5/19-13)
Any voter who is a resident of a nursing home or facility licensed under the Nursing Home Care Act, the Specialized Mental Health Rehabilitation Act of 2013, the ID/DD Community Care Act, or the MC/DD Act may fill out an application to receive a vote by mail ballot to be voted in-person at the facility. This application is titled “APPLICATION FOR VOTE BY MAIL BALLOT BY ELECTOR WHO IS A RESIDENT OF A NURSING HOME OR CARE FACILITY, OR FEDERALLY OPERATED VETERANS’ HOME OR HOSPITAL.’
This in-person voting at the facility is supervised by two election judges. This supervised in-person voting occurs on the Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday immediately preceding the election. If no residents at the facility fill out this application, then no supervised in-person voting occurs at the facility.
Voters at these facilities can alternatively elect to forego the supervised in-person vote by mail voting and choose to cast their ballot through the regular vote by mail process in which a ballot is mailed to the voter, completed by the voter, then mailed back (or dropped in a drop box).