WHAT IS VOTER “ASSISTANCE”?
“Assistance” is the actual casting of a vote for a voter by a specified person in the privacy of the voting booth on Election Day. Those giving assistance must vote as directed by the voter.
WHO MAY BE GIVEN ASSISTANCE?
Only those voters who genuinely need assistance may be given assistance. Illinois law provides that the following persons may receive assistance:
Physically disabled or blind voters;
Those voters who cannot read or write the English language.
Of course, all voters needing assistance must be registered to vote. Intoxicated voters do not qualify as being disabled and may not be given assistance.
WHO CAN ACTUALLY GIVE THE ASSISTANCE?
Any voter who needs assistance in voting by reason of blindness, disability, or inability to read or write may be given assistance by a person of the voter’s choice. However, the person giving the assistance cannot be an officer or agent of the voter’s employer or union.
If the voter who needs assistance does not specify a particular person to assist him in voting, then the voter can be assisted by two election judges, one from each political party.
HOW IS THE ASSISTANCE GIVEN?
Assistance is always given in the privacy of the voting booth. Anyone giving assistance must cast the vote as directed by the voter and must not give anyone information as to how the vote was cast. The person giving assistance must not attempt to influence the voter in any way.
Anyone who knowingly threatens, forces, or pays a voter to vote a certain way is guilty of a Class 4 felony.
IS AN AFFIDAVIT REQUIRED?
Yes. Assistance can only be given upon the voter’s request and only after the voter completes the appropriate affidavit. In every instance of assistance, both the voter receiving the assistance and the person(s) giving the assistance must sign the affidavit. If disabled, the voter receiving the assistance and the person(s) giving the assistance must sign the affidavit. If disabled, the voter must complete the affidavit stating if the specific physical disability is temporary or permanent. Also, the voter’s “Application for Ballot” must be marked by an Election Judge to show that the voter requested assistance.
WHAT IF A VOTER NEEDS INSTRUCTION?
“Instruction” is explaining to the voter how to use the voting equipment. “Assistance,” however, is actually casting a vote for a voter as directed by the voter.
Any instruction that might be required should be given before the voter enters the booth. A specimen ballot, not the voter’s official ballot, must be used during instruction. An affidavit is required for “assistance” but it is not required for “instruction”.