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Your Vote is Your Voice: Perspective from Tom Nash

August 16, 2016

Your vote matters. Why is it important to vote? Is it just to express your opinion? I think Lyndon Johnson, our 36th President, summed it up best when he said, “The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.”

I have heard some people say, “My one vote will not make a difference”. In the national presidential race, your vote may be just one drop of rain, but in state and local elections (which have the most impact on your life), your vote is a bucket of water. Elections for school board members, aldermen, judges, tax proposals, and many others have often been decided by a mere handful of votes.

Register!

To vote you must be registered. If you are an Illinois citizen and not sure if you are registered to vote, you can check online by clicking here. If you are not registered you can register online, in person at the office of the election authority, at driver’s license facilities, with deputy registrars who are appointed in each jurisdiction, or via mail using the Illinois Voter Registration Application available in English and Spanish. An individual may register to vote in Illinois if he/she is 18 years or older on the next election day, resides in the jurisdiction for 30 days prior to the election, and is a U.S. citizen. But you must register at least 27 days in advance of Election Day.

Go Vote!

The locations of polling places in Illinois are approved by the County Board or Board of Election Commissioners. The list of polling places is published prior to Election Day in a newspaper of general circulation. Most Election Authorities also post polling place information on their websites.

Vote Early!

If you will be out of town on November 8 or you simply find it more convenient, you can vote early with a “Vote by Mail” ballot (also known as an absentee ballot). These days any registered voter can request a mail-in ballot either by mail or in person. The expansion of mail-in voting means you won’t have to take time away from your work or family to go to a polling place. The Illinois State Board of Elections says, “A major reason for early voting is to encourage greater participation in the election process. People who travel for business, work long hours or are otherwise inconvenienced by the hours the polls are open on Election Day may find it easier to vote early.” You must request a mail-in ballot either by mail or in person. All requests by mail must be received by the Election Authority by 11/03/2016. All in-person early voting requests must be made by 11/07/2016. You can cast your absentee ballot beginning the 40th day preceding an election through the end of the day before Election Day. Click here for more about mail-in voting and to download the application form for an Illinois Vote by Mail Ballot.

I encourage you to vote. I believe that voting is not necessarily about supporting a specific party, candidates or even ballot issues. Voting is about supporting the idea of free choice. It is an expression of our rights as American citizens.