Students have options when registering to vote

Abbey Whittington and Cassie Buchman, Associate News and News Editor

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Students will have options when registering to vote in elections this year, whether they want to vote in their hometown or Coles County elections.

Students can register to vote online by going through the state board of elections website at elections.il.gov or at co.coles.il.us.

They can also come to the office of the Coles County Courthouse from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

When students come to the courthouse to register, they will need to bring two forms of ID with the proof of their address.

This can include a Coles County address, a lease, a copy of a dorm agreement or an apartment agreement.

County Clerk Sue Rennels said students will not be expected to get a new Charleston driver’s license, and instead can use their existing license along with mail or utility bills sent to their Coles County address.

If students register online, they will need their Illinois state ID or driver’s license number and the last four digits of their social security number.

If they want to register at home, students can contact their city’s county clerk and request a vote-by-mail ballot that will need to be signed and returned to their clerk’s office.

The deadline to get a signed vote-by-mail application is Nov. 3rd. The later students send in their application, the busier their county clerk’s office will be, so they are encouraged to apply early, Rennels said.

If students are already registered with their home address instead of a Coles county address, then they will have to vote in that jurisdiction or register again in Charleston.

Students will not be able to vote in both their hometown and Charleston, and any registration in other counties will be canceled if they re-register.

Each ballot will contain political races that correspond with the county students are voting in, along with federal and state races.

Early voting will start in the County Clerk’s office 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29. Rennels said it can be more convenient for students to vote before Nov. 8.

She said students who registered early have less of a chance of waiting in line during elections and tend to have less issues with parking when going to cast their ballot.

The Eastern polling site will be open for registration and early voting 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 1 through Nov. 7 in the Bridge Lounge of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

Rennels said voter turnout tends to go up during a presidential election.

“It kind of speaks for itself that most everyone feels that they have an interest in who’s leading our country,” Rennels said.

Lexie Bustard, a junior corporate communications major, said she thinks it is important for young people to vote because there are a lot of issues to address.

“We now have a voice so I think it needs to be heard,” Bustard said.

Bustard said she registered to vote in Charleston last year because it was more convenient for her.

Talia Persico, a senior marketing major, said she thought it was important for people to cast their own opinion instead of worrying about what others have to say.

“I think we are the biggest age group (who) are looking at to vote,” Persico said. “I believe it’s important for millennials to vote because it’s going to depend on our future and whatever happens now could lead to new laws and regulations.”

Persico said she thinks people do not address the election in the right way because rather than voting, they use social media to voice their opinions.

She also said students should pick based on their qualifications.

“It’s our president so it’s a big deal,” Persico said.

Abbey Whittington and Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]