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Voting 101: A guide for the collegiate voter

Graphic by Lori Caballero

For many college students, this year will mark participation in their first presidential election. While an essential part of a functioning democracy, the voting process is highly involved and slightly convoluted.

To register to vote in Illinois, one must be a U.S. citizen, 18-years-old at the time of the election, live in the precinct for at least 30 days and have two forms of identification; one confirming name and address. Some acceptable forms of identification as listed by the Peoria County Election Commission include a driver’s license, a Social Security card, a student ID card, a fraternal membership card and a utility bill among others. 

In Illinois and most states, students in college may register at their campus address or choose to remain registered at their home address. 

For registration outside of Illinois, please visit this page from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

Whether they are away from home or concerned about crowded polling places, record numbers of people are voting by mail. An article from the National Conference of State Legislatures compiled a list of each state’s plans for absentee voting in 2020. 

Thomas Bride of the Peoria County Election Commission noted in an interview with The Scout that “We have seen an increase in both Vote by Mail and Early Voting over 4 years ago. Typically we see the largest turnout in Presidential elections including younger voters.”

Many Bradley students are eager to go out—or stay in—in order to have their voices heard.

“Voting is absolutely essential and is too often taken for granted,” Lia Znaniecki, sophomore education major, said. “So many Americans were denied the right to vote for so long, and many Americans’ votes are still being suppressed, so it’s more important than ever to take advantage of your right to affect the future of the country and vote!”

Requests for Vote By Mail ballots for the state of Illinois must be received by Oct 29, and return ballots must be postmarked by Nov 3. 

Vote with your head to make informed decisions and vote with your heart to help make change on issues you care about. All in all, just go out and vote.

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