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Election protection available for early voting period

 
Submitted by the Election Protection Coalition
updated: 3/8/2018 2:17 PM

CHICAGO -- After a delayed start, the early voting period for the primary election is underway in Illinois, where candidates are on the ballot for local and statewide offices, including governor, state attorney general, and various judges and district representatives.

The Election Protection Coalition stands ready to assist voters with questions and concerns during the early-voting period that ends on March 19.

Voters are encouraged to contact 866-OUR-VOTE if they have questions or encounter problems when seeking to cast their ballots. The Election Protection Coalition will also be available to support voters on Election Day on March 20 starting at 6 a.m.

"The right to vote is the most important right in our democracy. In Illinois, voters will go to the polls in an important primary election and the Election Protection hotline will be answering calls to ensure that all eligible voters are able to freely cast their ballots and have their voices heard," said Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

"The 866-OUR-VOTE hotline is a resource for all voters and would-be voters in Illinois and across the country who seek to report complaints or otherwise access information needed to meaningfully participate in elections in their community," she said.

Hundreds of attorneys have volunteered to answer calls and monitor the polls in past elections with Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, which leads the coalition in Illinois. In 2016, nearly a thousand calls were made to the Illinois hotline call center.

"The right to vote in this country was not given easily -- it was won slowly with great effort by women, people of color, immigrants, and low-income communities," said Ami Gandhi of Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights. "Our Election Protection volunteer attorneys are here as a resource for voters facing barriers such as long lines, language barriers, or improper requests for ID, intimidation, registration hurdles, or language or accessibility barriers."

Election Protection volunteers are currently monitoring the toll-free English language hotline, 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) to answer any questions or concerns related to voting. Spanish-speaking voters may seek bilingual assistance through the 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) hotline.

Additionally, the 888-API-VOTE hotline provides bilingual voter services in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Urdu, Hindi, and Bengali/Bangla.

To vote in the March 20 primary, you must be registered to vote in the state of Illinois, and you can register up until and even on Election Day.

Although traditional registration is closed, online registration ends March 4 and grace period registration extends through Election Day at designated locations. Election Day registration is required to be available in all counties in Illinois and in many counties, it will be available in every polling place. To register online, go to https://ova.elections.il.govhttps://ova.elections.il.gov/RegistrationClosed.aspx and to check your registration status, go to http://ova.elections.il.gov/RegistrationLookup.aspx.

Citizens do not need to join a political party in order to vote in the primary election, but will be asked to select which party's ballot to vote on during the election.