About Voting in the November 2016 General Election"/>

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Northwestern's comprehensive 50-state voter-registration hub

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Frequently Asked Questions
About Voting in the November 2016 General Election

Below you will find some answers to common questions about the General Election (also referred to as the Presidential Election). This election will be held on Tuesday, November 8.

Registration

How do I know if I’m registered?

What if my election authority says I’m not registered?

Is it too late to register to vote?

Absentee Ballot

Where is my absentee ballot?

How do I submit my absentee ballot?

What if I didn’t receive my Absentee Ballot?

Voting

Where do I vote? (Where is my polling place?)

What do I need when I go to vote?

Can I vote before Election Day?

What is on my ballot?

What if I didn’t receive my Voter Registration Card?

Miscellaneous

How do I contact my local election authority?

Sources and additional resources

Other questions?

 


 

How do I know if I’m registered?

(I registered myself previously, or I registered using NUVotes’ tools at a registration event)

You can check your registration status directly with your state by going to canivote.org. If for any reason your record cannot be located, we recommend calling your local election official to double-check.

What if my election authority says I am not registered?

It often takes several weeks for your registration and/or absentee ballot request to be processed. Contact your local election official if you have any concerns about your application. But if you run into a problem, don’t panic – if your registration does not get processed correctly or your absentee ballot does not arrive in time, you still have the option to register (or re-register) and vote in Illinois through Grace Period Registration. There may be other options for you as well.  Feel free to contact us if you have trouble, and we will try to assist you.

Is it too late to register to vote?
If you haven’t registered yet, it is not too late! Grace Period Registration allows individuals to register and vote through November 7. Students living in Evanston can register and vote at the Evanston Civic Center (2100 Ridge Avenue) through the following dates and times:

Oct. 24 – 29 (Mon – Sat): 9am-5pm
Oct. 30 (Sun): 9am-3pm
Oct. 31 – Nov. 4 (Mon – Fri): 9am-7pm

Nov. 5 (Sat): 9am-5pm
Nov. 6 (Sun): 9am-3pm
Nov. 7 (Mon): 9am-7pm

While the Civic Center is within walking distance of the Evanston campus, the NU Voter Van will be available on Nov 2-4 to drive students from campus to the Civic Center. You should be prepared to cast your ballot immediately after registering.

To register, you need to bring two forms of ID:

  1. A WildCARD, driver’s license, passport, or state-issued photo ID
  2. Something that shows your Evanston address (a piece of mail, a utility bill, a printout of from CAESAR that shows your campus address [ CAESAR > Main Menu > Personal Profile > My Addresses ])

You can also register to vote on the day of the election at all polling places if you bring the two forms of ID listed above. However, it is highly recommended to register before Election Day, as the lines to register on Election Day could take several hours.

For information on Grace Period Registration for Chicago residents, visit the Chicago Election Board’s website.

Where is my absentee ballot?

(I submitted a request for an absentee ballot for the general election, but I have not received my ballot yet.)

You should check directly with your state or county to see if they received your absentee ballot request application and verify there were no errors in processing. Some states will allow you to track your absentee ballot online. At vote.org, there are links for each state’s “Election Center” at the bottom of the home page. On your state’s page, under “Helpful voting links,” there will be a link to track your absentee ballot if your state offers this service. If not, you can find the information for your local election official and contact them directly.

How do I submit my absentee ballot?

(I am registered to vote out-of-state)

If you have received your absentee ballot, be sure to submit it by your state’s deadline. Your ballot should provide instructions on how and where to return it (mail, fax, email, etc.). If you need help with mailing or simply need an envelope and a stamp, you can stop by the Center for Civic Engagement (1813 Hinman Avenue). We are open Monday – Friday from 9am – 5pm.

What if I didn’t receive my Absentee Ballot?

Because the elections system is run by individual states and counties across the nation, there is no uniform way to track absentee ballots. Some states do have online absentee ballot tracker services which are a good resource, but most do not. Also, clerical errors can still occur even if you submitted a complete application on time. Furthermore, in the past some voters have reported receiving their absentee ballots in the mail after their state’s deadline.

Best practice is to keep in touch with your local board of elections to verify the status of your ballot application. If you run into trouble (e.g. they say they have mailed you a ballot but you have not received it), they should also be able to help you identify a variety of alternative solutions (which will vary by state). NU Votes is also available to help advise you about possible alternatives.

Where do I vote?

(I know am registered to vote in Illinois – Where is my polling place?)

If you are registered to vote in Illinois, you can take advantage of Early Voting from October 24th – November 7th.

If you are voting on election day – Tuesday, November 8th – you must go to your assigned polling place. Polls are open from 6am to 7pm in Illinois. To find your polling place, enter the address at which you are registered here. If you registered to vote with your campus address, your polling place will most likely be either Parkes Hall (1870 Sheridan) or Patten Gym (2407 Sheridan).

Can I vote before Election Day?

(I am registered to vote in Illinois and would like to vote early)

Early Voting lets you avoid lines at the poll on Election Day and vote ahead of time. If you are registered in Evanston, you can vote early at the Evanston Civic Center (2100 Ridge Avenue) through November 7 (times listed below) – just make sure to bring a photo ID.

Oct. 24 – 29 (Mon – Sat): 9am-5pm
Oct. 30 (Sun): 9am-3pm
Oct. 31 – Nov. 4 (Mon – Fri): 9am-7pm

Nov. 5 (Sat): 9am-5pm
Nov. 6 (Sun): 9am-3pm
Nov. 7 (Mon): 9am-7pm

While the Civic Center is within walking distance of the Evanston campus, the NU Voter Van will be available on Nov 2-4 to drive students from campus to the Civic Center.

Check the Cook County Clerk’s website for additional information on Early Voting. For Chicago residents, you can early vote at any Chicago Early Voting location. If you are registered in another county in Illinois, check with your local election authority about Early Voting.

What do I need when I go to vote?

(What should I bring with me? What can I take with me to the voting booth?)

You are not required to show ID when voting, but we recommend bringing a Wildcard or other photo ID just in case.

You are allowed to bring notes or sample ballots with you to the voting booth and look up information on your phone. However, you may not take any photos.

What is on my ballot?

It’s not just the Presidential race! You can find your full ballot at ballotpedia.org.

To learn more about candidates and referenda, websites like votesmart.org and ballotready.org provide detailed, non-partisan information. Your county’s website might also provide information about races, candidates, and referenda. We also recommend reading local and national newspaper articles and checking out candidates’ websites before voting.

Evanston residents: to see your sample ballot, enter your address at the Cook County Clerk’s website.

Chicago residents: to see your sample ballot, enter your address at the Chicago Board of Elections’ website.

What if I didn’t receive my Voter Registration Card?

Because the elections system is run by individual states and counties across the nation, there is no uniform way to track registration submissions. Also, clerical errors can still occur even if you submitted complete registration materials on time.

The first thing to do is check your state’s registration status online through tools like canivote.org or by contacting your local election officials. Sometimes, voters have reported not receiving their Voter Registration Card, but find that they are correctly registered in their state/county board of election voter roll.

Best practice is to keep in touch with your local board of elections to verify the status of your registration. If you run into trouble (e.g. they say they have not received your registration materials), they should also be able to help you identify a variety of alternative solutions (which will vary by state). NU Votes is also available to help advise you about possible alternatives.

How do I contact my local election authority?

You can find the contact information for your local election authority here.

Sources and additional resources:

 

Other questions?

If you have any questions about registration or voting, please contact your local election officials. You can also stop by the Center for Civic Engagement (1813 Hinman Avenue), tweet @NUVotes, Facebook message NU Votes, or email nuvotes@northwestern.edu and we will do our best to assist you.

Please note: The information here was compiled from publicly available sources in an effort to help provide students with non-partisan information that they may need to know in order to register correctly and vote in upcoming elections. Northwestern University does not endorse or oppose any candidate or organization in connection with this or any other political campaign or election. Students are responsible for working with their own local election officials to ensure their own correct registration and to verify local laws and policies about voting in their respective districts.