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Tips for Voting on Election Day

Helpful list of tips to make sure you get out and vote

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November 5, 2012

Election Day is tomorrow (Nov. 6, 2012), and Northwestern University encourages all registered students, faculty and staff to do their part and vote. 

Following is a list of tips created by NU Votes, a non-partisan initiative of the Center for Civic Engagement.

Make sure that you are registered

If you registered recently and did not receive a voter registration confirmation in the mail or are unsure of your registration status, you can check online through services like Can I Vote? If you registered at your campus address in Evanston, you can also check your registration status directly with the county at the Cook County Clerk's Office. If for any reason your record cannot be located, we recommend calling your local election official to double check.

Find your polling place

If you are registered at an Evanston on-campus address, your polling place will be either Patten Gym (most North Campus residences) or Parkes Hall (most South Campus residences). If you live off-campus and are registered in Evanston or elsewhere in Cook County, you can find your polling place on your Voter ID Card or at the Cook County Clerk's Office. If you are registered in another county in Illinois or another state and are planning to vote in person, you can find your polling place by visiting the website for Can I Vote and selecting "Find Your Polling Place."

Know your poll hours

Polling places in Cook County are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Know what to bring 

Illinois does not require voters to show an ID to vote except in certain circumstances. If you are voting in Evanston for the first time, we recommend bringing identification which verifies your current address. Possible forms of identification include: 1) Voter ID card; 2) Driver's License; 3) postmarked piece of mail or a utility bill; 4) WildCARD. (Note: the Cook Country Clerk's Office has confirmed that a WildCARD should suffice as proof of students' registration address. However, bringing an additional piece of mail or official document with your specific address in addition is advised. If you are voting in person in another county or state, you can find information about what to bring by visiting Can I Vote? and selecting "Know What Kind of ID to Bring."

Educate yourself about your vote

You can see a sample ballot for the local Evanston elections online by checking your registration status at the Cook County Clerk's Office.  In other states, you should also be able to find sample ballots on your state's board of elections website.  Regardless of where you are voting, you can find nonpartisan information about the candidates at sites like Vote Smart. We also recommend reading local and national newspaper articles and checking out candidates' websites before voting.

Make sure you allow enough time to vote  

There may be lines on Election Day so we recommend scheduling at least 30-45 minutes to go to the polls.

If voting back home through the mail, submit your absentee ballot.  

Most states require that your ballot be postmarked by the Monday or Tuesday of the election. You can find your state's deadline here.

Remind your friends and family to vote

We are much more likely to vote when we know others in our social network are voting as well. Vote it forward!

If you have any other questions about voting or problems at the polls, the poll workers should be able to help you or you can call your local election officials to get more information.