Frequently Asked Questions
Before Election Day
On Election Day
When is Electon Day?
Click here to see upcoming elections.
How do I get started?
- Before you can vote in an election, you must register to vote. To register to vote, you must be:
- A U.S. citizen
- At least 18 years old by Election Day
- A resident of your precinct at least 30 days prior to an election
When is the last day I can register to vote?
For the February election, regular registration ends Tuesday, January 25,2011. Recent changes in state election law include a new initiative called grace-period registration and voting, which extends the registration deadline.
Where and how do I register?
Those eligible to vote have a variety of ways to register.
Complete and return a mail-in registration application to the Clerk's office.
You can register at any village, city or township hall office in suburban Cook County. Drivers license facilities and other state agencies also offer voter registration. You can also visit one of the six Cook County Clerk's office locations.
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How will I know that I am registered?
Each newly registered voter will receive a voter identification card in the mail within a few weeks of registering. It is not necessary to bring the card with you on Election Day.
You can also check online by typing your address, or call (312) 603-0906 to verify your registration.
Do I have to re-register every election?
Your registration is permanent unless you move. In those instances, you must re-register.
Do I have to declare a political party preference?
In Illinois, you do not declare affiliation with a political party when you register. In primary elections, you may choose to vote a specific political party ballot on Election Day.
When do I vote?
Election Day for even-year elections takes place throughout the County on the third Tuesday in March (primary election) and the first Tuesday in November (general election). During odd-years, elections take place the third Tuesday in February (primary election) in some suburbs and the first Tuesday following the last day for Passover in April (consolidated election) throughout suburban Cook County.
Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. every Election Day.
You may also vote early prior to Election Day. Early Voting allows suburban Cook County voters to cast ballots at designated locations before Election Day without having to provide a reason or excuse to do so. The Clerk’s office will also post the hours and locations of early voting sites before early voting begins.
Where do I vote?
On Election Day, you will cast your ballot in your precinct, usually in a public building, near your home, that serves as a polling place.
If you live in suburban Cook County, you will receive a brochure before each election that lists the address of your polling place.
You can also call the Clerk's office at (312) 603-0906.
Can I vote by mail?
Yes, you can vote absentee.
What's on my ballot?
Before the election, you can learn more about the candidates and referendums on your ballot online.
You can type in your address to download a personalized virtual ballot that lists every office and referendum that will appear on your Election Day ballot. You can also call (312) 603-0906 to receive a sample ballot in the mail.
What if I can't make it to my polling place?
If you are unable to make it to your polling place on Election Day, you may vote by absentee ballot before the election. Common reasons for voting absentee include being out of town or physically disabled.
Voters who wish to vote absentee must submit an absentee ballot application no later than five days before an Election. Download and print an absentee application online, or call (312) 603-0906 to receive one in the mail.
Early Voting takes place prior to the general election. The Clerk’s office will also post the hours and locations of early voting sites before early voting begins.
How can I help with elections?
Registered voters who are residents of Cook County are encouraged to serve as election judges in suburban Cook County.
Each judge receives $150 to attend a training session, open the polls on Election Day, oversee elections and certify vote totals after the polls close. To learn more about becoming an election judge, e-mail Elect.Judge@cookcountyil.gov or call (312) 603-0965.
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What if I'm not listed as being registered?
You can vote a provisional ballot if there is a question regarding your registration or eligibility to vote.
A provisional ballot is just like a regular ballot, but it doesn't get counted unless election officials verify your registration and eligibility after the election.
Can I receive help voting my ballot?
If you have difficulty making selections on your ballot, you may request assistance from a friend, family member or election judges in your precinct. Both the voter and the individual(s) providing assistance must sign a legal affidavit.
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What options do voters with disabilities have?
The Clerk's office is committed to enhancing access to the polls to make it easier for disabled voters to cast ballots independently.
Every polling place in suburban Cook County has at least one touch-screen voting machine. These machines are equipped with an optional audio ballot and keypad so voters with disabilities can vote independently.
Several assistance programs and services are available, including curbside voting, absentee voting, wheelchair-accessible voting equipment and voting aids. For more information, call the Clerk's disability coordinator at (312) 603-0929 or e-mail Accessibility.Info@cookcountyil.gov.
What will happen at the polling place?
Five election judges will guide you through the voting process.
- Election judges will locate your pre-printed application for ballot form, which includes your name, address and precinct information. You sign the form and the judge makes sure the signature matches the one you provided when you registered to vote.
- An election judge will determine your ballot style, which depending on where you live, determines what offices and candidates you are eligible to vote for. You will receive a ballot style slip with you ballot style number. In primary elections, you will be asked which political party’s ballot you would like to vote.
- An election judge will ask you if you would like to vote a paper optical scan ballot or use a touch-screen machine. You will either be issued an optical scan ballot or an activation card used to vote on a touch-screen machine.
- You will then proceed to a voting booth (optical scan ballot voting) or a touch-screen machine to vote.
One election serves as the provisional voting judge and will provide assistance if you cast a provisional ballot, which is issued if your registration or eligibility to vote has been questioned.
What kind of voting equipment will I use?
At the polling place, voters will choose to vote a paper optical or use an electronic touch screen machine, similar to an ATM machine and useable to voters with disabilities.
How do I vote?
Voting instructions are posted on each voting booth or touch-screen machine at the polls.
What if I make a mistake?
If you make a mistake while voting, ask an election judge for help. If you make a mistake before casting a paper optical scan ballot, you may ask a judge for a new ballot.
What if I need help on Election Day?
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