So, you’re going to vote in person.
Congratulations! And thank you for participating in the electoral process. Whether you’re early voting (through Monday, check your county clerk’s office for locations) or hitting the regular polling place Tuesday, what’s in store?
Definitely plan to wear a mask and dress to wait outdoors if necessary. You can bring your own writing implements and hand sanitizer, though both will be provided. If you’re already registered, you don’t need identification. If you haven’t registered, or if you’ve recently moved, bring two forms of identification in order to register and vote concurrently.
(Unsure? Visit your county clerk’s website and you may be able to check registration status and print a personalized registration card.)
You will have to provide a signature. Election judges (one from each party) should verify this signature and direct you to a station where you’ll be given the proper ballot for your precinct and specific instructions. A judge will mark their initials in the marked space. This doesn’t indicate anything about you or how you intend to vote.
There may be poll watchers. These people are credentialed — by the county or State Board of Elections — and are allowed to observe election judges (including those helping curbside voters), challenge voter status. They are not allowed to see how you vote, interfere with judges or — like anyone else — engage in a political discussion (“electioneering”) within 100 feet of the polling place’s front door.
If you have a completed absentee ballot, hand it to an election judge or put it in a certified drop box. Chances are you can cut the line to reach the box (signs encouraged this when I voted early at a county building last week), but don’t hesitate to check with the clerk in advance for protocol and drop locations in your jurisdiction.
Some reminders for all voters: no results will go public until after polls close at 7 p.m. Everything reported is unofficial. Counting is complete by Nov. 17, the election should be certified by Dec. 4. Few conventional campaigns change significantly in the interim, but for public questions and judicial retention votes with 60% thresholds, unofficial totals between 50 and 60% likely mean waiting to have real confidence about the actual outcome.
There is a national, nonpartisan coalition, Election Protection, with a hotline (866-687-8683) and website (866ourvote.org) but I always recommend starting with your county — and asking questions as early as possible because even with more than 3 million votes already cast, Tuesday still will be a long, busy and trying day.
Experienced voters shouldn’t be surprised, but I’m out of the prediction business this cycle — other than to expect the unexpected. However and for whomever, please vote!
• Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media Illinois. Follow him on Twitter at @sth749. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.