Early Voting in the Tri States
Thanks to early voting, hundreds of people in the tri states region have already cast their ballots even though the general election is still a few weeks away.
Early voting continues to grow in popularity among people who do not want to wait in line, who have to work on Election Day, or who cannot physically make it to the polls.
The rules and availability differ from state to state, so the Tri States Public Radio news department has put together a little early voting guide.
It is fairly easy to cast a ballot before Election Day in Iowa.
The first step is to find out if you are eligible to vote.
If you are eligible to vote, you can check whether you are registered to vote at theIowa Secretary of State's website.
Iowa residents who have not registered have until Oct. 25 to do so without a photo ID requirement. After that, they can register at the County Auditor's office with a photo ID leading up to Election Day.
Once registered, Iowans have many options when it comes to voting early.
The most common approach is to request an absentee ballot, which can be done by calling or visiting the County Auditor's office, by visiting the Iowa Secretary of State's website, by returning a mailer from a political party or even via a sign-up drive from a political candidate.
Such requests must be received by Friday, Oct. 31 to receive an absentee ballot in time.
County Auditors can even send teams with absentee ballots to local nursing homes.
Iowa does offer that "Election Day feeling" several weeks early with polling sites operating at the County Auditor's offices during regular business hours and satellite locations in locations like grocery stores or libraries.
Missouri doesn’t allow early voting, but that could change on Election Day.
A constitutional amendment on the November 4 ballot would establish a six-day early voting period, excluding weekends. If approved by voters and funded by the state legislature, Missouri would have early voting in the 2016 election.
As for this fall, Missourians can either cast a ballot on Election Day or vote absentee by mail, phone or in person.
Absentee voting by mail:
- Requests for absentee mail ballots must be submitted to the local election authority by Oct. 29.
- Absentee ballots must be returned by mail or fax by the time the polls close at 7 p.m. on election day.
Absentee voting in person:
- This option is available during regular business hours and select Saturdays at local election authorities through Nov. 3.
Only those voters who will not be able to reach their polling place on Election Day are able to vote absentee. The Missouri Secretary of State's Office lists compelling reasons for absentee voting to include having a physical disability or illness, being out of town or incarcerated.
Early voting has been offered in Illinois since 2006, and over the years the process to vote before Election Day has become much easier.
There is no need to give a reason for voting early and while a photo ID is usually a requirement, it is not required for this fall's election.
That rule will return next year unless state lawmakers decide to waive it again.
Illinois residents can find out if they are registered to vote by visiting the Illinois State Board of Elections website.
State law requires decisiveness when voting early because one cannot change his/her mind and try again on Election Day.
However, voters can correct mistakes. They simply have to bring their ballot to an election judge or an election administrator and they can spoil the ballot, allowing a "do-over."
There is also no need for early voters in Illinois to worry about over-voting a particular race. They would lose their vote for that contest, but the rest of their ballot would hold.
Early voting runs Oct. 20 - Nov. 1 in Illinois. The Illinois State Board of Elections says absentee ballots can be requested by mail until Oct. 30 and in person until Nov. 3.