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Preparing for the polls | What to bring when you cast your ballot

In Missouri, voters must bring identification to vote. In Illinois, it is not required

ST. LOUIS — You got registered, you've studied the issues, you made a plan, and now it is time to cast your ballot. Here is what you'll want to have on hand when you head to the polls:


In Missouri, voters need to show identification to vote:

  • ID issued by the State of Missouri or the U.S. government
  • ID issued by a local election authority (the card mailed to you ahead of the election)
  • ID from a Missouri university, college, vocational or technical school
  • A current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check or other government document that contains the name and address of the voter

In Illinois, registered voters do not typically need to show ID, but it is useful to have it on hand in case the election judges challenge your signature or right to vote, or are missing information from your registration form. You will need to bring two forms of ID if you are registering or filing for an address change and voting on the spot:

  • Driver's License
  • Social Security Card
  • Employee ID Card
  • Student ID Card
  • Credit Card
  • Library Card
  • Insurance Card
  • Selective Service Card
  • Civic Membership Card
  • Fraternal Membership Card
  • Union Membership Card
  • Professional Association Membership Card
  • Utility Bill
  • Checkbook
  • Military ID
  • Passport

In either state, if you wind up at the polls without the necessary ID, do not leave before casting a provisional ballot, which is a ballot that will count once election authorities are able to confirm your identity and registration.

KNOW TO VOTE: How to ensure your ballot does not get rejected

COVID-19 Safety

Voters cannot be forced to wear a mask, but they are strongly encouraged. In Illinois, and in some Missouri election authorities, like St. Louis County, face coverings are required.

If for some reason, you will not wear a mask and are voting in person where one is required, election workers must still help you vote. That may include bringing you to a designated area to cast your ballot, or bringing your ballot to vote "curbside."

Many polling places will effort to provide a mask and hand sanitizer for anyone who needs it, but it is a good idea to bring your own if possible. St. Louis County voters will be given a single-use pen/stylus to cast their ballot. Expect to see surfaces cleaned regularly.


You can also bring notes with you if you want to remember who and how you want to vote.

On the Missouri Secretary of State's website, voters can enter their addresses to see exactly what is on the ballot where they are registered to vote. The language will be exactly as it appears on the ballot. Voters' local election authority will also be able to provide a sample ballot that looks like the real thing.

In Illinois, there is no statewide search tool, so voters should check right away with their election authority. To find contact information for your election authority in Illinois, click here.

RELATED: Voter Guide 2020: Everything you need to know about the election in Missouri and Illinois


Finally, as they say, "pack your patience." Though early and mail-in voting will help spread out crowds, voters should still be prepared to wait. While the average wait time for absentee in-person voting is about 15 minutes in St. Louis County, some have reported waiting up to 90 minutes at St. Louis City absentee-in-person voting places.

KNOW TO VOTE: These are the safeguards in place to ensure voters only vote once