How to Vote in Illinois

FT Contributor
A man placing his vote in a ballot box with the Illinois state flag in the background.
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Eligible citizens who are 18 or over can register to vote in Illinois. The deadline for voter registration is 27 days before the election. However, the state offers a “grace period” that allows voters to register after this deadline.

How to Register to Vote in Illinois

In addition to being an of-age citizen, you need to reside in the precinct where you plan to vote for at least 30 days before the election. You also need to produce a proof of residence document when registering.

In Illinois, you may register to vote in person, by mail, or online.

In-Person Registration

You can register in person at the following locations:

  • Your county clerk’s office;
  • The Board of Election Commissioner’s office;
  • City, township, and village offices;
  • Schools, libraries, military recruitment offices, and any other locations that the local election authority designates as a registration center.

When registering in person, you need a state-issued ID, such as a driver’s license. The ID needs to show the address where you currently reside. You can also use another proof of residence document, such as a utility bill.

Registration by Mail

To register by mail, you need to download the registration form that is available on the Illinois State Board of Elections website or obtain one from your county clerk’s office. Once you complete the form and attach required documents, you can mail the registration to the county clerk’s office.

Required information for mail registration includes at least one of the following:

  • An Illinois-issued ID or driver’s license number;
  • A proof of residence document, such as a current bank statement, paycheck, or utility bill;
  • The last four digits of your Social Security number;
  • A photo ID issued by a college or university together with some proof of residence.

Online Registration

Online registration

 is available through the Illinois State Board of Elections website. Like the other voter registration options, you need to provide proof of residence with a state-issued ID number or alternative document. For the 2020 general election, the deadline for online registration is October 18.

Am I Registered to Vote in Illinois?

If you’re not sure whether you have registered as a voter in Illinois, you can check your status on the State Board of Elections website. You can also go to the nearest election office in your area and find out in person. Additionally, the State Board of Elections has contact information for county clerks and municipal clerks who serve as local election officers.

Early Voting in Illinois

Early voting is available in person or via absentee ballot.

Early voting for the upcoming general election starts on September 24, 2020. At this time, you may vote at one of the designated polling places or at the offices of your local election authority. These offices are usually the office of the county clerk or municipal clerk. Early voting at these locations lasts until the day before Election Day. This year, early voting ends on November 2.

To vote early by mail, you use an absentee ballot. To use this method, you need to be a qualified and registered voter in Illinois. You do not need a reason to use an absentee ballot.

Special absentee provisions are available for members of the military stationed overseas and government employees stationed overseas or anywhere outside of the precinct where they are registered to vote. Citizens who are registered to vote, but reside abroad, may also cast an absentee ballot.

You can mail an absentee ballot as early as 40 days before the election. Military members may submit their ballot 45 days before the election.

You send it to the election authority for the area where you registered to vote. You may mail the ballot up until election day. As long as the postmark reads November 3, 2020, or earlier, your absentee ballot will be on time. However, the election authority must receive it within two weeks after Election Day.

Voting in Illinois on Election Day

Election Day is the first Tuesday in November, which will be November 3 this year. You can cast your ballot at the polling place in the precinct where you registered. You can find your polling place by contacting your local election office or by entering your zip code on the Illinois State Board of Elections website.  

Polling places are open between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m., statewide. Some polling places may allow you to vote if you are in line by 7 p.m., though this decision is up to local and state election authorities.

Why Voting Is Important

Local, state, and federal officials that you choose on Election Day will be responsible for enacting legislation related to issues that affect your life. Their decisions affect many financial matters, including enacting or changing laws related to Illinois state taxes and minimum wage. Legislators may also work on finance-related issues such as lending practices and consumer protections.

On election day, you can vote for the elected officials who you want to represent you when it comes to these and other issues.

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