Some states, especially in the South, are notorious for coming up with new and creative ways to suppress voting, such as poll taxes, requiring proof of citizenship when registering, prohibiting prior felons from voting, moving polling places and consolidating them.

That’s not what happened here with the polling place switch from the community center to the lower level of Forest Park Village Hall, 517 Desplaines Ave., for precincts 66 and 68. When the county asked the village if voting could take place at the community center this year, the village said no, since the space is being used for D91 childcare. But the village offered the lower level of village hall instead. Notices of the precinct change will be mailed to all registered voters in precincts 66 and 68.

Etta Worthington, a Forest Park resident and activist who keeps a lookout for what Joe Biden refers to as “malarkey” during this election, said, “While there is no certainty that voter suppression is not happening in this state, I don’t believe we have the kind of obstacles that we hear of in other states.”

“Right now,” she added, “I think the biggest problem in Forest Park is that people have not educated themselves adequately about the voting process.”

So here are some tips to voting in Forest Park:

 

Registering

Perhaps the obstacle to voting mentioned most often is waiting till the last minute.  Although it’s too late for several types of registration, such as online or by mail (applications need to be mailed in 28 days before the election), it’s not too late to register on Election Day itself.

Visit cookcountyclerk.com/service/your-voter-information to find out where your home precinct is.

Two forms of ID are required to register to vote, to change a name on your voter registration, or to change a registration address. Acceptable forms of ID include driver’s license, state ID, Passport, military ID, vehicle registration card, Social Security card, credit card, union membership card, bank statement etc.—almost anything with your name and address (from “A Briefing Report of the Illinois Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights,” February 2018).

 

Homeless voters

Illinois residents who are homeless have the right to vote during Tuesday’s Nov. 3 presidential and statewide elections. If you live on the street, in shelters, or doubled-up in the homes of others, you are considered homeless. If you don’t have a mailing address, list the two streets that intersect closest to where you hang out.

 

Voting by Mail

Illinois permits “no-excuse” (you don’t have to give a reason) absentee and early voting.

Applications to vote by mail for the Nov. 3 election must be completed by 5 p.m. on Oct. 29. To complete an online mail ballot application, you’ll need your driver’s license or state identification number or the last four digits of your Social Security Number, the address where you would like your ballot mailed, and an email address. Visit cookcountyclerk.com/agency/vote-mail for more information.

A returned absentee ballot must then be postmarked no later than midnight Nov. 2, the night before election and received no later than 14 days after the election.

To be sure your ballot is counted, don’t wait till the last minute. “The U.S. Postal Service warned that in almost all of the 50 states and Washington D.C.,” CNN reported, “voters could be at risk of not getting their ballots back to election offices in time to be counted because election rules are not compatible with the time needed for delivery and return of absentee ballots through the mail.”

 

Early voting in person

Forest Park residents who want to vote early and in person can go to the Maywood Courthouse, Whitcomb Building, 1311 Maybrook Square on First Avenue, the closest early voting location at the following times:

       Oct. 26-30       8:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.

       Nov. 2             8:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.

 

Election Day

To find your polling place, visit cookcountyclerk.com/service/your-voter-information and enter your information.

Again, note that the county is moving the polling place for precincts 66 and 68 from the Community Center to the lower level of village hall, 517 Desplaines Ave. Notices of the precinct change will be mailed to all registered voters in precincts 66 and 68.

All polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central Time.

Village hall will be open for phone service only on Election Day, Nov. 3, to ensure social distance for both village employees and voters.

Tips for Election Day:

  • All polling places must be ADA compliant.
  • You may bring written or printed materials into the voting booth to assist you.
  • If you are wearing campaign clothing, buttons, or stickers, you may be required to remove or cover them. You may not display campaign signs, pamphlets, or other materials.
  • You can request up to two hours off of work to go and vote in Illinois.
  • On Election Day, you can cast your ballot after the polls close if you are in line at the listed closing time.
  • If you or anyone you know encounters problems while voting, call 1-866-687-8683.
  • You need not present a photo ID to vote in Illinois. A poll worker should not ask you for ID except in a narrow range of circumstances. You may need an ID if an Election Judge challenges your right to vote, you registered to vote by mail and did not provide ID, or if you are also registering to vote or changing your registration address on the day that you vote. 

 

What about the judges?

Very few people have a clue on how to vote regarding judges. For guidance, go to the Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Screening, recommendations by the Tribune or Sun Times or the League of Women Voters. Remember, voters can take lists into the voting booth.

 

Felony disenfranchisement

Illinois is one of 14 states that automatically restore voting rights to people with felony convictions upon their release. The National Conference of State Legislatures reported that, even in states like Illinois where voting rights are automatically restored after an individual completes their prison sentence, a lack of information and/or timely communication between courts, corrections officers, and elections officials can “result in uneven application of the law, even when the laws are clear.”

Specifically, “ex-offenders sometimes are not aware that they regain their voting rights automatically upon completion of their sentence,” causing them to “go through life believing they cannot vote when, in fact, they can.”