Election Security - Vote By Mail

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Voting by Mail is becoming an increasingly popular voting method of choice for voters in suburban Cook County. Vote by Mail has skyrocketed over the last 10 years, increasing 423 percent -- from 36,754 in 2012, to 87,987 in 2016, and a whopping 460,281 in 2020.

Voters may request a Mail Ballot using the online application for the June 28, 2022, Gubernatorial Primary Election at cookcountyclerk.com/votebymail.  Ballots will be mailed to those who have applied starting in May.  Mail Ballot applications for the November 8 Gubernatorial Election will be accepted starting August 10, 2022.

Any registered suburban Cook County voter with a driver’s license, state ID, or social security number on file may request a Mail Ballot using an online or paper application.

  

Vote By Mail FAQs

How do I get a Mail Ballot?

Each election, a voter can apply to have their ballot mailed to them so they can vote at home at their convenience. This application can be started or completed online at cookcountyclerk.com/VoteByMail.

Do I have to apply each election?

No. Starting in 2022 voters can ask to be added to a list of permanent Mail Ballot recipients. This list of voters will automatically receive a ballot via mail each election and when there is a partisan election, they will receive the primary ballot of the party they identified when applying to the list.

Do I have to mail back the ballot once I receive it?

No. While ballots can be sent back through the United States Postal Service, Mail Ballots can be deposited in one of the many Cook County Clerk’s secure drop boxes that will be located at Early Voting sites throughout the county. 

A Mail Ballot can also be returned on Election Day at the voter’s regular polling place location and the voter will then be allowed to vote in person.

Can take my name off the Permanent Mail Ballot list after I sign up?

Yes.

What happens to my Mail Ballot once I send it back?

The Clerk’s Office has strict chain of custody processes and safeguards for the handling of Mail Ballots – beginning with the application and mailing of Mail Ballots – to transport through the postal system -- and finally, ballot receipt by our office. When a voter applies for a Mail Ballot, the Clerk’s Office verifies the application and voter name and address through voter registration records before mailing the ballot to the individual voter at their chosen address.

Mail Ballots must be signed by the voter on the exterior of the envelope before being mailed or dropped in a drop box. Once received at the Clerk’s Election Operations Center, that signature is then verified by a panel of three bipartisan judges utilizing voter registration records.

The judges, who receive training in signature verification, review the signature and must all agree the signature is valid for that voter. The verified and sealed envelope is then processed by a high-speed machine and the ballots are extracted and placed into a queue to be counted after the polls close on election night.

How can I track my Mail Ballot to make sure my vote was received and counted?

The Clerk’s Office has a “Your Voter Information” tool on its website that provides key information for a voter. The tool can provide details about a voter’s polling place, their individual ballot, the local elected officials who represent them, and more.

Each Mail Ballot that is returned contains a specific code that identifies the voter, and that code is scanned and reported through the return process. Voters can use the online Voter Information Tool to determine that their ballot has been received by the U.S. Postal Service, received by the Clerk’s Office, and placed in the queue to be counted after the polls close on election night.

When do I have to mail my ballot back?

All Mail Ballot return envelopes sent via US Postal Service must be postmarked no later than Election Day. The Clerk’s Office must receive them within 14 days after Election Day.