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Voting: A how-to guide for Tuesday’s midterm elections

Voters wait in line at the Loop super site for early voting and registration at 175 W. Washington St., Monday afternoon, Nov. 5, 2018. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Chicago and Cook County’s election officers had a few pieces of advice Monday for a pain-free Election Day.

Vote early while you still can. Early voting locations will be open in Cook County townships and in every ward in Chicago till 5 p.m. And 15 sites voting will be open to till 7 p.m.. Voters are especially encouraged to take advantage of the voting super-sites downtown.

Hours and locations for early voting in Chicago and suburban Cook County are available online. Cook County voters can even check a continually refreshed map to see how long the wait is at different early voting sites.

Verify your registration and polling place. Voters can find out whether and where they are registered to vote online for suburban Cook County and Chicago.

Voting sites will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, but every site will stay open till every voter in line at 7 p.m. has a chance to cast their ballot.

Know what to expect on the ballot. Cook County voters should receive two paper ballots on Election Day. One lists city-wide and county-wide referendums and judicial retention; the other lists other candidates and local referendums. You can preview your ballots here for suburban Cook County and here for Chicago.

To speed up the process, elections officials encourage voters to consider filling out a sample ballot beforehand. Voters can bring reference materials into the ballot box with them. The Sun-Times has a comprehensive voting guide for Tuesday’s election.

One last thing to remember: a mayoral term limit referendum was struck down, but the already-printed ballots still have the question. The vote on that question will not be binding or even publicly disclosed.

Don’t give up if you’re not registered. Voters in Illinois can register to vote the day of the election at the polling site for their address. They must bring two forms of ID, including one that lists their address. They do not need to show a photo ID.

Track the results. The Sun-Times will track results of the election as they come in Tuesday night, including original reporting and county-by-county totals for state-wide contests.

Prepare for the worst. A bi-partisan team of election judges will be present at every polling site to help voters with questions. If you see something off on election day, or have questions about the voting process, you can also reach voter hotlines at 312-269-7870 for Chicago and 312-603-0906 for suburban Cook County.

Get your ballot in the mail. Vote-by-mail ballots post-marked by Nov. 6 will be counted, even if election authorities don’t have it on Election Day. Cook County Clerk David Orr emphasized that every mail-in ballot will be counted, whether or not they can change the result.

Voters who have not received your mail-in ballot, or want to be sure their vote gets in by the deadline, can go to their polling place to surrender their ballot or sign an affidavit that their ballot never arrived and then vote in person.

Voting in the Collar Counties. Voters outside of Cook County can find information about their own elections here:

Voters based elsewhere in Illinois can find information about their local voting authorities at the State Board of Elections website.