Early voting in Evanston began at 8:30 a.m. today, Oct. 19, in Room G300 on the ground floor of the Civic Center, 2100 Ridge Ave., and will continue through Nov. 2.

The City has said it will take precautions to ensure the safety of those participating in early voting – frequently cleaning contact surfaces, making hand sanitizer available, requiring face coverings and advising social distancing of at least six feet.

Early Voting, Times and Requirements

Early voting hours at the Morton Civic Center are as follows:

Weekdays: Oct. 19-23; Oct. 26-30; and Nov. 2, 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

Weekends: Oct. 24, 25 and 31 and Nov. 1, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A government-issued photo ID is not required to vote early, but is helpful if there is a question about the voter’s registration, address or signature.

Residents can register to vote at all early voting sites, the locations of which are available on the Cook County Clerk’s website. To register, a person must be a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years old by Election Day, and a resident of the precinct at least 30 days prior to Election Day. Any voter registering for the first time or filing an address change or name change must present two forms of ID, one of which shows the voter’s current address. Accepted forms of ID are an Illinois driver’s license, Illinois state ID, employee or student ID, credit card, Social Security card, birth certificate, utility bill in applicant’s name, mail postmarked to the applicant, valid U.S. passport, Public Aid ID card and a ease or rental contract.

Voting by Mail

Through Oct. 29, registered Cook County voters can request a mail-in ballot online at cookcountyclerk.com/votebymail. Mail-in ballots have prepaid postage.

As an alternative to using the United States Postal Service, Cook County officials will have secure drop-boxes available during voting hours at all early voting locations in Cook County, and there will be election judges on hand.

The drop-boxes that may be most convenient for Evanston voters will be at the early-voting site in the Civic Center and at the Skokie Court House.

Voter verification is required. The voter must sign in a specified place on the outside of the ballot “to verify they are the one who cast the vote,” said James Nally, who serves as legal counsel to the Cook County Election Board.

Anyone who wishes to use the drop-box for their ballots but who is unable to get to the early-voting site may designate someone to deliver the ballot. The voter can sign, also on the outside of the ballot, to verify permission for the designated person to deliver the ballot.

Each day of early voting when the polls close, the mail-in ballots will be removed from the drop-box and sent to be processed.

On Election Day

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3. Many polling places have been changed because of the pandemic, and voters can find their polling places at ova.elections.il.gov or www.vote.org.

A voter who has received a mail-in ballot but not cast it and later decides to vote in person may still do so, Mr. Nally said. On Election Day only, the voter may present the mail-in ballot to an election judge at the polling place and receive instructions on how to proceed.

Early Birds Flock to Vote or Drop Ballots

At 9:30 this morning, the first day of early voting, the line of early voters, allowing for social distancing, stretched across the back of the Civic Center and up the block. But spirits were high among the masked citizens waiting to cast their ballots well ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election.

“We’ve been here almost two hours,” said one man.  He found it “well worth the wait. If some can put on uniforms for our country, the least I can do is vote.” Anticipating a wait, two women sat comfortably in the folding chairs they had brought. Another voter leaned on a cane.

Those arriving with completed mail-in ballots (their own only, unless authorized on the envelope to deliver someone else’s) gained immediate entrance to deposit them in the ballot drop box just inside the door. Young couples took turns, one watching the kids and the other dropping the mail-in envelope.

Voters exited the building to cheers of “Thanks for voting.”

Mary Gavin

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...