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A guide to all things voting on and off campus

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Voting provides citizens an opportunity to participate in the democratic process while having a voice. Yet there’s a lot of information coming from all different directions, and it can be overwhelming.

Illinois State University’s Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CESL) has organized step-by-step instructions to make sure students are registered properly, sifting through nonpartisan resources, and ready to make an informed decision to elect who best represents their interests. Here are some helpful guides, as provided by CESL.


Illinois is a same-day registration state, meaning constituents can register to vote at the same time they choose to either vote early or vote on Election Day. Two forms—listed below—are needed, and both must have the voter’s name while one must have the most current address. For those wishing to vote on campus, one of the following forms must have the Illinois State address.

  • Passport or military ID
  • Driver’s license or state ID card
  • College/university/school/work ID
  • Business mail postmarked to the applicant (including mail sent from ISU)
  • Library card
  • Vehicle registration card
  • Lease, mortgage, or deed to the home
  • Credit or debit card
  • Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid card
  • Insurance card
  • Payroll check/personal check
  • Voter registration card
  • Bank statement
  • Birth certificate
  • Utility bill in applicant’s name

NOTE: For students living in residence halls, a screenshot of a current address from the ISU Student Service Center is considered one form of ID.

For those wishing to register online, Illinois State University partners with TurboVote, an online tool that guides users through the registration process. It tracks local, state, and federal elections and sends personalized text and email reminders about how and when to vote in any upcoming election.

“TurboVote is a platform that helps facilitate students registering to vote, and it connects with the Illinois online voter registration system so it can all be done online,” said CESL Assistant Director Harriett Steinbach.

Online registration usually takes five days to process. The online voter registration system closes at 11:59 p.m. on October 18. Hopeful voters should check the status of their registration throughout.

Voting early

Students, faculty, and staff may vote early on campus from October 26-30. The polling locations are as follows:

  • 10 a.m.-5 p.m. in the Founder’s Suite at the Bone Student Center.
  • Noon-7 p.m. in the Rosa Parks Room at Watterson Towers.

Voting by mail 

Those who can’t make it to the polls on Election Day or prefer not to vote in person may request to vote by mail through TurboVote. Plan ahead if this is the preferred route. Allow time for it be mailed, and then subsequently mailed back and received. Ballots must be postmarked by Election Day, but CESL encourages voters to mail in the ballot as soon as possible to avoid any issues or concerns.

This is a good option for students who might be more inclined to vote in their home communities or states if they are particularly interested by a race or referendum on those ballots.

“It’s where you want your voice to matter,” said Steinbach, who noted how much students’ voices matter in Normal, too.

Election Day

November 3 is Election Day. This year, Illinois State University is marking it as a holiday for students, faculty, and staff, to ensure everyone can get to a polling place.

“The fact that there are no classes is the institution removing a barrier,” Steinbach said.

Polling place hours are 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Those in line by 7 p.m. are entitled to vote.

Anyone who lives in Normal will be able to vote in early voting at the polling places in Watterson and Bone. However, on election day, it will only be the individuals who live in the precincts here that will be able to vote here. Students will need to determine which precinct they live in if they’re in off-campus housing and then vote at their official polling place.

Students can register and vote using their campus address or permanent (home) address. Polling places throughout Illinois may be found State Board of Elections website.

Sifting through information 

The Redbird Voter Guide has a toolkit that provides nonpartisan resources for students, faculty, and staff looking to make informed decisions.

Deciding voters can read about candidates of every race from presidential to local county board. In addition, the Redbird Voter Guide offers a nonpartisan political ideology quiz if visitors to the site are unsure on where they stand on certain issues.

CESL encourages voters to be as well informed as possible, to talk to the right people, and to find credible news sources—whether they’d be online, TV, print, or social media.

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