The Cook County Clerk’s office will start distributing a record number of mail ballots today to more than 400,000 suburban voters who’ve asked to cast their vote by mail in the Nov. 3 election.

This morning, Clerk Karen Yarbrough says, the office will start printing the individual ballots in the requested language, packaging the materials and sending them to voters.

Voters who have already requested mail ballots can expect to see them arriving in their mailboxes over the next week.

Yarbrough said voters seeking a safe and secure method to cast their ballot during the COVID-19 pandemic and high interest in the presidential election seem to be driving the demand for mail ballots. In the 2018 gubernatorial election only about a quarter as many mail ballots were requested.

“It is my highest priority to ensure that Cook County voters have the opportunity to cast their ballots in the manner in which they feel most comfortable, whether that is voting by mail, voting early, or voting in person on election day. We intend to deliver an election process that engages as many voters as possible in a manner that is safe, secure, and equitable for all who participate,” Yarbrough said.

Voters who have not yet requested a mail ballot but would still like to do so have until Oct. 29 to make their request. The easiest and most convenient way to request a mail ballot is to apply online at the Clerk’s website at

Clerk Yarbrough encourages voters to apply online as soon as possible and provide an email address so that her office can inform them when their request is received and when their ballot is mailed. The deadline to return mail ballots is Nov. 3.

For voters who opt not to vote by mail, in person Grace Period Registration and Early Voting will begin Oct. 7 at Cook County’s five suburban courthouses and at the Cook County Administration Building in Chicago.

On Oct. 19, in person early voting will be expanded and available at more than 50 locations across suburban Cook County including at the Evanston Civic Center.

Secure drop boxes will be available at all of these voting locations beginning Oct. 19 for voters who prefer to drop off their ballot rather than mail it. Voters can go to for detailed information on voting dates and locations.

Voters who have requested a mail ballot can expect to receive the following documents in the mailing that they receive from the Cook County Clerk:

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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