Charles Toney-Jones wasted no time getting to his car in the cold, wet weather on Friday. Photo by Heidi Randhava

Evanston early voters were not daunted by the wet and blustery October afternoon or the lines that formed outside the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center on Oct. 23. Those who came to drop off their mail-in ballots found much shorter lines or no wait at all.

The U.S Elections Project 2020 Summary Statistics reported more than 54 million total early votes on Oct. 24. The project is coordinated by University of Florida Professor Michael McDonald.

“I didn’t have to wait that long. It was approximately 15 minutes. It’s cold, but it felt good to vote,” said Judith Hurwich as she headed to the parking lot after casting her ballot.

Melissa Roth said she checked the wait time on the Cook County website before coming out. “I’m comfortable voting in person,” said Ms. Roth.

Voters who delivered their Mail Ballots to the Ballot Drop Box at the Morton Civic Center formed a separate line that moved quickly.

Alan Salmi did not hesitate to make a second trip to the Civic Center in order to cast his vote in person, despite a temperature of 44 degrees and a cold on and off drizzle.

“I could have voted provisionally, but I’d rather go back to my apartment and find the mail-in ballot, which I didn’t fill out, and give it to them to prove that I didn’t mail it in,” said Mr. Salmi.

Once a Mail Ballot is sent, the voter is placed on the Who Voted List, which is a fraud prevention measure, according to information available at

Voters who take the Mail Ballot with them and surrender it to Election Judges will be able to cast a ballot at the polling place with no problem at all.

Voters who cannot surrender the Mail Ballot because they misplaced it or never received it can  vote a Provisional Ballot. Once the Provisional Ballot comes back to the Cook County Clerk’s office and is researched to confirm that the voter did not vote any other way, the Provisional Ballot will be accepted.

Charles Toney-Jones said he voted provisionally. “It took about 30 minutes. The process was pretty smooth. Once you get in the door, you’re good,” said Mr. Toney-Jones.


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 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 or

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.

Heidi Randhava

Heidi Randhava is an award winning reporter who has a deep commitment to community engagement and service. She has written for the Evanston RoundTable since 2016.