So you don’t like waiting in line at a polling place, or you just prefer to keep it your own personal business whether you vote or not – can you vote absentee? YES!

In Illinois, if you are a qualified, registered voter, you can request an absentee ballot beginning 90 days before an election. The next scheduled election is on Tuesday, November 4, 2014. In the past we were required to swear that we were going to be unavailable on election day before we could get an absentee ballot, but no more. Any reason is fine. The clerk will not even ask you for a reason.

Absentee ballot requests can be processed 90 days before an election, but the actual absentee ballot cannot be mailed to the voter until 40 days before the election, so this year no absentee ballots will be mailed to voters until September 25.

You can either visit your local County Clerk’s Office and request your ballot application, or give the clerk a call and ask that an absentee ballot application be mailed to you, or visit the Clerk’s website (in Williamson County, at WilliamsonCountyIL.gov) and print your own application. Complete the application and return it to your County Clerk.

After the request is processed, the ballot is mailed to the voter’s home. To be counted in the election, the absentee ballot must be accurately completed and post-marked by midnight the day before the election and must be received by the election authority within 14 days after election day to be counted, or if you prefer you can hand deliver your absentee ballot to the County Clerk. For general elections, the election authority is your County Clerk.

If you present the absentee ballot at your polling place on election day, it can be voided so you can vote a normal ballot. You have until 7:00 p.m. to personally hand deliver an absentee ballot to the Office of your County Clerk on election day if you so choose.

You must make a separate application for an absentee ballot for each election you choose to vote absentee – there is no such thing as permanent absentee voting.

Even absentee voting is still a secret endeavor. You are not allowed to give the ballot to someone else to fill out for you. When you vote absentee you will be required to sign an affidavit stating that the information on your request is valid, and that you have done the voting. Voter fraud is a criminal offense.

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