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Are You Registered to Vote?

Today is National Voter Registration Day! Voting is a core principle of being American, but to exercise this basic right, you must be registered to vote.

People register to vote at the Board of Election Commissioners booth at the Black and Minorities Business and Cultural Expo held in the International Amphitheatre, Chicago, September 27, 1971. ST-19031753-0001, Chicago Sun-Times collection, CHM

In the 2016 US presidential election, more than 34 million potential voters reported being unable to vote due to not being registered. In a 2020 study by the Knight Foundation, more than one in four unregistered voters (27%) reported not being registered because they didn’t know how, kept forgetting, didn’t have time, were too busy, or had recently moved. Among unregistered voters ages 18–24, this number was even higher: 42%.

National Voter Registration Day wants to make sure no one who wants to cast a ballot misses the opportunity due to a registration problem. For those who live in Illinois, here are your notable deadlines

  • Tuesday, October 6, is the deadline for registering by mail to vote (postmarked by).
  • Sunday, October 18, is the deadline to register online to vote.
  • Thursday, October 29, is the deadline to request a ballot by mail (received by). 
  • Tuesday, November 3, is the deadline to register in person to vote and Election Day. After the regular voter registration deadline of Tuesday, October 6, 2020, you can register and vote in person during a grace period, which begins the day after the deadline and runs through Election Day. During this grace period, you can register and vote at your local election office, a permanent polling place, at early voting sites, at some polling places on Election Day, and at any other location specifically designated for grace-period voting by your election authority. Contact your local election office for more information on grace period locations and hours. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, voter registration is also more important than ever. Many of the most common, in-person ways that Americans register to vote—such as DMVs, campus drives, concerts, and community events—came to a sudden halt in the spring as social distancing policies went into effect. Safety comes first, but voter registration is also important, and thankfully you can safely register online. Register to vote.

Virtual Debate Watch 2020 

The year 2020 has been unlike any other. Americans are in a watershed moment amidst the confluent impacts of COVID-19, calls for racial equity, and civil unrest. Prior to each debate, join us for a series of one-hour live virtual panel discussions with experts from political and civic spheres. Moderated by Chicago journalist Laura Washington, this conversation series kicks off on September 29 with Congresswoman Robin Kelly of Illinois’s 2nd Congressional District; Lynn Sweet, the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times; and Pat Brady, former chairman of the Illinois Republican Party.

Learn more and purchase tickets.
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