Voting!

Everyone is talking about it! The upcoming election. For many, it cannot happen soon enough to stop the madness of the media and the candidates themselves. For others, like Morgan County Clerk and Recorder Jill Waggener, there are multiple steps that need to happen in order for an election to happen. Along with her staff, she is busy getting Morgan County ready for the 2016 presidential election.

Step one for Waggener (and all of you): you must register to vote in Illinois. Your vote does count, but before you can cast your vote you must be registered. In order to register to vote, you must be a U.S. citizen, must be at least 18 years of age (by Election Day) and must have been a resident of the precincts at least 30 days prior to Election Day. Register today by stopping in to the County Clerk’s office, Board of Election Commissioner’s office, any city and village or township office, many schools, public libraries, military recruitment offices or you can register by going online. Go to www.elections.il.gov to see if you are presently registered. If not, make sure that you complete the registration process so you are able to have your voice heard through the voting process.

After you are registered, maybe you should consider voting early. Early Voting was approved by the Illinois General Assembly in order to encourage greater participation in the election. Registered voters may cast a ballot prior to Election Day without having to provide a reason for wanting to do so. You can do this by going to the Morgan County Clerk’s Office inside of the Morgan County Courthouse. The early voting for this election starts September 29 and goes through November 7. However, once you cast your vote you are unable to change your mind. So make sure you have decided on your candidates when choosing early voting. Voters casting an early ballot must display valid identifications such as a driver’s license, state-issued ID card or another government-issued ID along with a photograph. Another option available as a means to encourage all citizens to cast their ballot prior to Election Day is voting by mail. Voters can request a vote by mail ballot through the mail or in person. Voting by mail also starts September 29.

Still, many people want to go out and actually cast the vote for the candidate of their choice. Therefore, voter assistance is available to any person who needs it in the privacy of the voting booth on Election Day. Illinois law provides the following persons can receive assistance: persons with disability or visually impaired voters, or voters who cannot read or write the English language. Of course, all voters needing assistance must be registered to vote and identify their need assistance. The assistance can be given by any person of the voter’s choice. However, an officer of agent of the voter’s employer or union cannot give the assistance. If the voter doesn’t bring someone to assist him or her with voting, then two election judges can assist a voter, one from each political party. An affidavit will be signed by the voter and the person(s) assisting them. If a voter needs instructions as opposed to actual help casting a vote, it can be given before the voter enters the booth. A specimen ballot is used during instructions, as opposed to the voters’ official ballot.

Any handicapped or elderly voter who cannot enter a polling place due to the features of the building may request to vote outside (near the entrance) of his/her polling place. Requests for this service must be made to Morgan County Clerk Jill Waggener by the close of business on the day before the election.

The Illinois State Board of Elections has made it possible to vote no matter what limiting factors you might be facing or things that have stopped you from voting in the past. Call Morgan County Clerk Jill Waggener at 217-243-8581 for questions on any voting-related issues you might be facing. Your vote matters, please make sure you cast it!

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