We are less than two months out from the 2024 primary election in the state of Illinois, and there are plenty of races that will be on the ballots this March.
In order to help voters prepare for the election, we have compiled a list of essential resources, detailed information and a slew of links to ensure that voters can make their voices heard as the election season gets underway in earnest.
Before we proceed, it’s important to note that the most up-to-date and detailed information and specific answers to questions can be found by contacting your local election authority.
The fastest way to find contact information for your county clerk is to visit the Illinois State Board of Elections’ website.
When is the 2024 primary election in Illinois
The 2024 primary election in Illinois will take place on Tuesday, March 19.
Early voting will begin in early February, with additional sites coming online approximately two weeks prior to the election, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.
How to register to vote in Illinois
Voters in Illinois have numerous methods to register to vote, including same-day voter registration and grace period registration even after the February deadline to register passes.
Residents seeking to register to vote must:
-Be a United States citizen
-Must be 18 years of age or older on Election Day
-Must live in their precinct for at least 30 days prior to an election
-Must not be serving a prison sentence as a result of a criminal conviction
-May not claim the right to vote anywhere else
Automatic voter registration is available in the state of Illinois, including when obtaining a driver’s license. When obtaining a REAL ID-compliant license, residents will be registered automatically unless they opt-out. For non-REAL ID-compliant licenses, individuals may be asked if they would like to register.
Voter registration can also be submitted to a local county clerk’s office via the U.S. Postal Service. Registering in that fashion must be done no more than 28 days prior to an election, which would fall on Feb. 21, 2024 for the primary.
Voters can also register online, with a deadline of March 3.
Finally, grace-period voter registration is available at local county clerk’s offices or at participating early voting polling places. Same-day registration is also available at some polling places, with ballots submitted on a provisional basis prior to being accepted and tabulated.
A full list of information can be found here.
HOW TO VOTE IN ILLINOIS
There are four different ways to cast ballots in the state of Illinois, beginning before the election with in-person early voting and voting by mail.
All local election authorities in the state are required to offer early voting sites, with many counties opening their sites on Feb. 8, 2024, 40 days ahead of the primary election.
Most counties will open additional early voting sites on March 4, two weeks prior to the election.
Voting by mail is also an increasingly popular option for residents. There are a variety of ways to submit mail-in ballots, which we will detail in the next section of this guide, but applications for mail-in ballots must be received by March 14, and the ballots themselves must be returned or postmarked by March 19, the day of the election.
Members of the military or Illinois residents living overseas also have several options for obtaining and returning ballots, which are detailed on the State Board of Elections’ website.
Finally, there is traditional voting on Election Day. Voters are not required to present an identification to vote in Illinois unless they are changing items on their registration, or if their voter registration documents had incomplete information.
We will provide additional insight into that type of voting in a later section of this guide.
How to vote by mail in Illinois
Any registered voter in the state of Illinois can cast their ballot via the mail for any reason.
Voters must apply for mail-in ballots by submitting forms to their local election authority. Those forms can be submitted online in some areas, while in others they can be downloaded and either mailed in or submitted in person.
The deadline to request a mail-in ballot is March 14.
Ballots can be returned to your local election authority, or can be submitted via a secure drop box. A full list of drop boxes can be found on the State Board of Elections’ website.
Ballots can also be returned via the mail, but most be postmarked by March 19. Ballots must arrive at the local election authority no later than April 2 to be counted.
More information, and tips on how you can still vote if you decide to cast a ballot in person instead, can be found on the NBC Chicago app.
How to vote early in the Chicago area
Early voting is set to begin on Feb. 8 in many jurisdictions, while the city of Chicago’s supersite will officially open its doors on Feb. 15.
Full information on sites and opening dates can be found on the NBC Chicago app.
How to vote on Election Day
Voters can cast ballots on Election Day, but may need to present forms of identification in some limited circumstances.
According to officials, no identification is required if the voter is already registered at their current address and is voting in the correct precinct. A voter’s signature can be used to verify their residency at the time of voting.
A voter needs one form of identification if election judges have reason to challenge their right to vote, or if their mail-in registration did not contain their driver’s license or state ID number, or a Social Security number.
Finally, two forms of identification are required for voters seeking same-day voter registration on Election Day. Two forms are also required if a voter is changing their address, or if they are filing to change the legal name on their voter registration.
A full list of acceptable forms of identification can be found here.
When are polls open on Election Day?
Polls in Illinois are required to open at 6 a.m. on Election Day, and will close at 7 p.m.
Certain circumstances can lead to polling places remaining open for extended hours, but the most important information is that if a voter is in line when polls close, they will be allowed to cast a ballot.
How to find your polling place?
The Illinois State Board of Elections operates a website where voters can use their five-digit ZIP code to find their polling place. You can find that site here.
Can you register to vote on Election Day?
Same-day voter registration is available at specific polling places, which can be found via a tool on the State Board of Elections’ website.
In order to register to vote on the day of an election, a voter will need two forms of identification, with all acceptable forms found here.
Who’s on the ballot in Illinois
In order to vote in the 2024 primary election, voters will need to declare their choice of ballot when they arrive at their polling place.
In the 2024 primary, Illinois voters will choose their preferred nominees in all of the races, including the presidential race, which will appear at the top of ballots.
Voters will also choose their preferred presidential delegates, who will formally cast votes on behalf of their candidate during the Republican and Democratic National Conventions later this year.
Outside of the presidency, voters will also choose nominees for the November election for their respective members of Congress, with all 17 members of Illinois’ Congressional delegation facing reelection this year.
All 118 members of Illinois’ House of Representatives will be up for re-election in 2024, as will approximately one-third of the state’s 58 senators.
Some districts will also have primary votes on Supreme Court justices, with elections in the first and fourth districts to provide nominees for vacancies to those seats.
Voters will also determine nominees for appellate court, circuit courts and subcircuit courts when they cast their ballots.
Finally, some counties will also have countywide races to decide in 2024.
Sample ballots can be found on the local election authority’s website in your area.
What are the races to watch in Illinois?
The presidential election will feature two contested races on primary ballots, with President Joe Biden facing a trio of challengers and former President Donald Trump facing former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Elsewhere, multiple members of Congress will face high-profile primary challenges, including Rep. Jesús “Chuy” Garcia, who will go up against Chicago Ald. Raymond Lopez in the fourth district. Rep. Mike Bost will face a Republican challenge from former gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey in the 12th district, while Rep. Danny Davis will face four Democratic challengers in the seventh district.
More information on the races to watch can be found on the NBC Chicago app.
How to research judges on the ballot
Judges are elected from specific districts or circuits in the state of Illinois, so the judges that will appear on your ballot will be different depending on where you live.
The Illinois Supreme Court has seven total seats, including three from the first district, which represents Cook County.
In this year’s election cycle, there will be an election in that First District, as Justice Joy Cunningham will run for election to a full 10-year term after replacing former Chief Justice Ann Burke in Dec. 2022.
There is also an election in the fourth district, as Justice Lisa Holder White will run for a full 10-year term on the bench after replacing former Justice Rita Garman.
The fourth district covers a slew of counties in western and central Illinois, including Ogle, Lee, Peoria and Sangamon counties.
There are numerous other vacancies in the Appellate Court, including four in the First District, and at least 11 vacancies in the Cook County circuit court, among others.
In the lead-up to the election, numerous organizations will release their recommendations on the qualifications of the judges, including the Chicago Bar Association, the Chicago Council of Lawyers and the Illinois State Bar Association, among others.
Those websites will be updated with information as the election draws nearer.
What should I bring to vote in person?
If you are already registered to vote at your current address, you will not need to bring a government-issued photo ID to vote, but it could be helpful if any questions arise about your registration, address or signature.
If you are registering to vote on the day of the election, or need to make changes to your registration such as a new address or a legally-changed name, you can do so, but will need two forms of ID.
Finally, voters are allowed to bring notes into the booth with information on which candidates they’ll be voting for.
Can I take a ballot selfie?
Taking photos with your ballot is prohibited by state law, as it’s a felony to mark your ballot so another person can see how you voted.
Granted, state election officials have said it’s “unlikely” anyone would be prosecuted for such a photo, but taking a picture with a sticker or your polling place is far safer.
What should I do if I run into any problems voting?
Voters who are challenged on their voting eligibility, who experience voter intimidation or have trouble at their polling place are encouraged to report such incidents.
If you run into any of the above issues, or have any questions about the voting process, more than 100 organizations across the U.S. operate an Election Protection hotline, which can be reached at:
1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683): English
1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (1-888-839-8682): Spanish/English
1-888-API-VOTE (1-888-274-8683): Asian languages/English
1-844-YALLA-US (1-844-925-5287): Arabic/English
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is one of the organizations that helps operate the hotline during election season.
Residents can also text MYVOTE to 866-687-8683 to get help from trained volunteers. Assistance is also available on Twitter or Facebook Messenger at @866ourvote, and live-chatting can be accessed on the group’s website.
How to get live Illinois election results
Election Day coverage will be airing live on NBC Chicago throughout the evening and at 10 p.m. Coverage of up-to-the-minute race results can also be found on NBCChicago.com and on the NBC Chicago app, where you can turn on notifications for all the latest race results.