Worried about coronavirus? Vote by mail to avoid Election Day crowds

Illinois voters can still request a ballot by mail to avoid crowds on March 17.

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An election worker wearing protective gloves bundles mailed-in ballots in Washington.

John Moore/Getty Images, file photo

With concern over the coronavirus causing major public gatherings to be canceled in Chicago, public officials have reminded voters that they can still request a ballot by mail in order to avoid Election Day crowds on March 17.

The official deadline to request a ballot by mail is Thursday, although state officials warned that residents should try to get their application in by Monday in order to ensure it’s mailed to your house in time. It just takes a few minutes online.

Mail ballots must be postmarked no later than Election Day and received by the county within two weeks.

“Because voters no longer need to provide a reason tovoteat home, ourVoteBy Mail program has become more popular with each election since its inception,” Cook County Clerk Karen A. Yarbrough said in a statement.

While officials expect an increase in early voting requests this week as a result of concerns over coronavirus, a statement says the state “will have more than enough paper ballots for mailing and our top-of-the-line equipment can handle any increased capacity that an uptick invotingby mail would bring.”

The announcement also ensures voters that officials are following strict guidelines from the CDC in handling coronavirus and COVID-19. Every polling place open March 17 will have hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes available.

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