Mail-in voting has become more popular in the era of COVID-19, and for many Evanston residents voting in the primary election this trend will continue.

Although there will be one big difference in the primary election: no local drop-box. 

Mail-in ballots must be signed in two places and have a witness signature. Return postage is guaranteed, and any mail-in ballots can be simply be slid into a U.S.P.S. box. One way to find the closest public collection box near a voter’s residency is to follow this link: https://mailboxlocate.com/states/IL/cities/EVANSTON

The City of Evanston will not have a dropbox available, said the City Clerk’s office. The closest drop box for those requesting a mail-in ballot will be at the Skokie Court House, 5600 Old Orchard Road, open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day. Until Feb. 22, there will also be drop-boxes in the court houses in Maywood and Markham and in the County Clerk’s office, 69 W. Washington in Chicago..

A voter who has received a mail-in ballot but has decided to vote in person may still do so. On Election Day the voter can present the unused mail-in ballot to an election judge who will then give them instructions on how to proceed with voting in person.

Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin said there were no issues with mail-in voting in the November election except a  small inaccuracy of the online ballot tracker that shows the status of the ballot.

“It was not a huge issue, there was just some confusion because the website was not updating that quickly, but they have now updated the tracking system, so it is more accurate and improved,” he said. 

Legal counsel for the Cook County Clerk James Nally explained that even though mail-in voting was heavily used all over Cook County in the November election, legislation did not act in time to extend the temporary bill that allowed drop-boxes at early voting sites to continue this spring.

“In November, voters could use a drop-box if they chose not to send their ballot through the mail, but that was only a temporary law,” he said. “There is nothing currently in place that allows us to put drop-boxes in early voting locations because legislators did not reauthorize the boxes in time for the primary election.”

Mr. Nally encouraged voters to drop off their mail-in ballots at U.S.P.S. boxes throughout the City or vote early at the Civic Center, 2100 Ridge Ave. if they feel comfortable. He also said that Evanston residents should try to get their application for mail-in voting in as early as they can. Everyone who has requested a mail-in ballot should have received it by now.

The last day to request a mail-in ballot is Feb. 18 and the last day mail-in ballots can be postmarked is the day of the primary, Feb. 23.

The primary election will consist of candidates for Mayor, City Clerk, and aldermen of the Fourth and Eighth wards. More information may be found at evanstonroundtable.com and the RoundCast, the RoundTable’s podcast, on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Stitcher.