Get Ready to Vote: Rights to Accommodations
Whose Seats? Your Seats!
The Midterm Elections are coming up fast, on November 8, 2022! As we begin to prepare for the upcoming election, there are millions of Americans who face extra barriers to voting. There are many factors that can make it difficult for people to register to vote or to vote at all. 1 in 4 Americans live with a disability and in 2016 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that 60 percent of polling places were inaccessible to disabled voters. When it comes to those experiencing homelessness, according to 2008 data roughly 60% of the homeless population were U.S. citizens over age 18, but only 1 in 3 were registered to vote. Add in the intersectionality of LGBTQ+ status or race and this can increase barriers to participation in elections. In the 2018 Midterm elections, the trend of stricter voting laws harmed BIPOC voters the most with 80 percent of Black voters in Georgia either being unable to vote, experiencing great difficulty voting, or being removed from voter rolls.
This year’s Midterm Elections are your opportunity to have a say so on issues ranging from healthcare, LGBTQ+ rights, gun control, education and transportation, just to name a few. It is critical that all people have the ability to vote. To help ensure that everyone is able to access voting in this upcoming election, below are some special circumstances and ways to prepare yourself or someone you know to vote in November.
ADA (American with Disabilities Act) Voting/ Assisted Voter/ Challenged Voter/ Curbside Voting
For voters with a physical disability, the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides support for any voter that needs physical support, including having polling places that are ADA and wheelchair accessible. They will also provide any supplemental ballot assistance such as a magnifying glass, assistance from another person, touchscreens that present large print or the ability to vote curbside with notice. For more information on voting with a disability, you can visit disabilityvoteil.org.
Hospitalized or Assisted Living Voter
If you are admitted to a hospital, assisted living facility, or rehabilitation center within 14 days before Election Day and are unable to physically make it to a polling place, you may quality to have a ballot delivered to you by a family or friend subject to certain conditions. To find out more information on the parameters, you can visit cookcountyclerkil.gov.
The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) allows the opportunity to vote to all active U.S. military, Merchant Marines, other uniformed services, eligible family members, and U.S. citizens overseas (with some provisions). There are some registration requirements and any ballots requests need to be requested within 10 days of the election. To get more information on overseas voters, please visit cookcountyclerkil.gov.
Provisional voters are voters who might be missing important information necessary to vote. A few examples of situations where someone may be marked as a provisional voter include: your registration cannot be found and you are unable to provide required documentation or witness; you are challenged by a poll-watcher in the voting site and you cannot provide required documentation or a witness; or you insist on voting at the incorrect Election Day voting site.
A person is given a provisional ballot to fill out and will have a certain amount of days to send the ballot back to the Illinois Election Board information with the information requested such as State ID, in order for the provisional ballot to be counted. For more information on provisional voters and ballots you can visit cookcountyclerkil.gov and elections.il.gov.
Survivors of Domestic Violence
The Illinois Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) aids survivors of domestic violence by providing a substitute address to use as their home and work addresses. This will also ensure their home and work addresses are kept private on voter rolls so no one can identify their actual information. For more information on voting privacy or to apply for ACP protections, you can visit illinoisattorneygeneral.gov.
Voting with a Criminal Record
In the state of Illinois, anyone who is not actively incarcerated and serving out a sentence is allowed to vote. For example, if you are on parole, you are not actively serving a prison sentence and are therefore allowed to vote. You are not allowed to vote in Illinois if you are still actively serving out a sentence, and this includes participating in a furlough program. For more information on voting with a criminal record, please visit illinois.gov.
Persons Experiencing Homelessness
State and federal law protects the right to vote for people experiencing homelessness. If a person is not already registered they can register in person or online. There are multiple forms of ID the state of Illinois will recognize when registering to vote, including mail postmarked to the applicant; Illinois driver’s license or state ID card; a municipal ID card (for example, the Chicago CityKey); an employee or student ID; Social Security card; birth certificate; credit card; valid U.S. passport; lease or rental contract. People experiencing homelessness can provide a letter from a drop-in center, shelter, or the person in whose home they are living doubled-up that approves the center or residence to be used for the purpose registering to vote. There is also a Illinois ID program where those who are experiencing homelessness can receive help getting an ID recognized by the State of Illinois. You can find out more information on voting while experiencing homelessness at chicagohomeless.org. You can get more information other alternative Illinois ID at outreachchicago.us.
To get more information including registering to vote, receiving information on voting by mail, finding a polling location, or get updates on the midterm election you can visit your local election boards for more information
For residents of Chicago, you can get more information at chicagoelections.gov
For residents of all of Cook County, including Suburban Cook County, you can go to cookcountyclerkil.gov/elections
For all residents, regardless of where in Illinois you reside, you can go the Illinois State Board of Elections at elections.il.gov.