How to vote in the March 19 Illinois presidential primary

Here’s a guide to casting your ballot — whether you’re looking to register to vote, vote by mail or vote in person.

A row of empty ballot boxes in Chicago
A row of empty ballot boxes sits at the downtown voting super site, Monday, April 3, 2023. Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere / Chicago Sun-Times
A row of empty ballot boxes sits at the downtown voting super site, Monday, April 3, 2023. Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere / Chicago Sun-Times
A row of empty ballot boxes in Chicago
A row of empty ballot boxes sits at the downtown voting super site, Monday, April 3, 2023. Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere / Chicago Sun-Times

How to vote in the March 19 Illinois presidential primary

Here’s a guide to casting your ballot — whether you’re looking to register to vote, vote by mail or vote in person.

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The Illinois primary is March 19, but early voting has already begun and mail-in ballots are being sent out to those who request one. Voters will get to pick which party’s ballot they want, then select their choice for president and congressman.

In Cook County, primary voters are selecting their next state’s attorney candidate after Kim Foxx decided not to seek a third term. And Chicago residents can decide the fate of Mayor Brandon Johnson’s proposal for a graduated tax rate on the transfers of real estate – with the money gained from it being designated to benefit people who are homeless.

Here’s everything you need to know about how you can vote:

How can I register to vote?

You can register to vote online or even at your election place on Election Day. If you register to vote in-person when you go to cast your ballot, you must bring two forms of ID (such as your passport, driver’s license, lease or mortgage) with at least one of them listing your current address.

How can I vote by mail?

You can apply right now to receive your ballot through the mail. Anyone who wishes to vote by mail must apply before 5 p.m. on March 14, 2024. Your ballot must be postmarked by March 19, 2024 in order for it to count. You must apply to vote by mail through your local election authority. Links to apply online are below:

I previously voted by mail. If I want to vote by mail again, do I need to apply again?

That depends. If you’re on the permanent vote-by-mail list, you don’t have to apply again.

You can apply to permanently get your ballot through the mail through your local election authority’s website listed above.

If you’re not on the permanent vote-by-mail list, you’ll need to apply for a mail-in ballot again.

Democracy Solutions Project

When and where can I vote in person early?

Early voting sites are limited for now, but more locations to vote early will open as election day approaches.

City of Chicago: Residents can vote at the supersite location at 191 N. Clark St. downtown or at 69 W. Washington St., 6th floor. Each of the city’s 50 wards will open its own early voting location on March 4.

Suburban Cook CountyResidents can vote in downtown Chicago at the pedway of 69 W. Washington starting Feb. 21. More locations throughout the suburbs open for early voting on March 4.

DuPage County: Residents can select from five different early voting locations to cast their ballots. Additional locations will become available on March 4.

Kane County: The county allows for early voting at two locations: one at the county clerk’s office in Geneva and one at Aurora satellite office. More locations open for in-person early voting on March 4.

Kendall County: Early voting is in Yorkville at the Kendall County Office Building. Early voting will also take place at the Oswego Village Hall from March 4-14.

Lake County: Early voters can cast their ballots at the main courthouse lobby at 18 N. County St. in Waukegan. Beginning March 4, more early voting locations open.

McHenry County: Residents can vote early at the McHenry County Administration Building at 667 Ware Road in Woodstock. Beginning March 4, more locations become available.

Will County: Voters can begin casting in-person ballots on Feb. 8 at the Will County Clerk’s Office at 302 N. Chicago St. in Joliet. More early voting locations open starting March 4.

Where can I vote on election day?

Chicago voters can cast their ballot at the voting supersite at 191 N. Clark St., at their early voting location or you can look up your local polling place here:

I just moved. Where do I vote?

If you moved 30 days before Election Day, vote at the polling location for your new address. If you moved less than 30 days before Election Day, vote at the location for your old address.

I requested a mail-in ballot but now I want to vote in person. Can I do that?

Yes, but you must bring the ballot you received in the mail with you to your polling place and surrender it in order to cast an in-person ballot instead.

Can I bring notes with me into the voting booth?

Yes. Notes, sample ballots and endorsements are all allowed to be brought with you into a polling booth.

Can I bring my young child with me to vote?

Yes, you are allowed to bring your children with you into the voting booth.

I’ve heard that you can’t post a photo of a completed ballot on social media. Is that true?

Correct. Illinois prohibits “ballot selfies.” That said, there’s no law stopping you from taking a picture with that “I voted” sticker.

Are ballots in other languages available?

Chicago and Cook County polling locations have voting machines that offer audio ballots in the following languages: Arabic, Chinese (audio in Mandarin dialect), Gujarati, Hindi, Korean, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Ukrainian and Urdu.

Can someone else help me fill out my ballot?

Anyone who is blind, physically disabled, or unable to read or write can select an election judge, friend, family member or another voter to help them complete their ballot. That person can’t be a representative of your employer or union, however. The person helping you is not allowed to influence your vote and cannot fill out your ballot without your expressed intent.

When will my vote be counted?

Ballots are tabulated in Illinois after polls close on Election Day.

This story is part of the The Democracy Solutions Project, a partnership among WBEZ, the Chicago Sun-Times and the University of Chicago’s Center for Effective Government. Together, we’re examining critical issues facing our democracy in the run-up to the 2024 elections.