Illinois primary election 2024: Voting guide

The Illinois primary election is officially here with several key races, locally and nationally, taking center stage.

At the top of the ballots, Illinois voters will choose their preferred nominee for the presidential race. 

Statewide, all 118 members of the Illinois House of Representatives will be up for re-election along with 20 of the state's 59 senators.

In Cook County, voters will make their choices for state's attorney, county commissioners, board of review commissioners, water reclamation district officials, clerk of circuit court, circuit court judges, and subcircuit court judges.

This guide will break down the ins and outs of the Illinois primary ahead of Election Day.

When is the Illinois primary?

The 2024 Illinois primary will take place on Tuesday, March 19. 

Polls across the state will open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. If a voter is in line to vote by 7 p.m., they will be allowed to cast their ballot.

Who is eligible to vote in Illinois?

There are four requirements to vote in the 2024 Illinois primary. Eligible voters must:

  • Be a United States citizen
  • Be at least 18 years of age by Election Day
  • Have been a resident of the precinct at least 30 days prior to Election Day
  • Not be serving a prison sentence as a result of a criminal conviction
  • Not claim the right to vote elsewhere

You can check to see if you're registered to vote in Illinois here.

How can I vote in the Illinois primary?

There are three ways you can cast your ballot in the Illinois primary:

1. By mail: Any registered voter in Illinois is allowed to cast their ballot via mail. The last day to request a mail-in ballot is March 14.

Click here for a list of mail ballot drop box locations.

2. In-person: Early voting locations will be available across the state starting on March 5. On Election Day, polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

In Illinois, voters must declare their political party affiliation at the polling place to participate in that party's primary election. The candidate who receives the most votes for the office they're running for in a primary election is declared the winner, regardless of whether they secure a majority of the total votes cast.

What do I need to vote in-person on Election Day?

Identification is not required to vote at the polls but you will be required to verify your signature.

First-time voters who registered by mail and did not provide their driver’s license number, state ID number, last four digits of their social security number, or another form of ID must show identification with their name and address before voting. Acceptable forms of ID include:

  • A current and valid photo identification
  • Utility bill
  • Bank statement
  • Government check
  • Paycheck
  • Lease or contract for residence
  • Student ID & mail addressed to voter’s residence
  • Government document

Where can I vote in Illinois?

The easiest method to find the closest polling place to you is to check out this tool from the Illinois Board of Elections.

What are the biggest races in Chicago?

Cook County State's Attorney

Several candidates are vying to replace outbound Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx, who decided not to run for re-election.

Clayton Harris III will face off against retired Judge Eileen O'Neill Burke in the Democratic primary to see who will likely square off against Republican candidate Bob Fioretti in the general election.

Backed by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and the Cook County Democratic Party, Harris has experience as a former prosecutor. Additionally, he has served as a lecturer at the University of Chicago – where he graduated from – for the past 14 years, contributing to his comprehensive understanding of legal dynamics.

O'Neill Burke is a life-long Chicagoan who long-served in the appellate court system.

"I was born and raised here. I grew up on the Northwest Side. I met my husband here, we raised our kids here. I had my whole career here. I love it here," O'Neill said.

Jesus "Chuy" Garcia vs. Raymond Lopez

Chicago Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) is challenging incumbent Congressman Jesus Chuy Garcia in the 4th Congressional district.

Lopez said the growing migrant crisis is central to his motivation to challenge a sitting Democrat.

The March Democratic primary will see voters decide between two opposing ideologies; Garcia’s progressive agenda versus Lopez’s more conservative approach. The pair has traded barbs for years, including during their failed bids to become Chicago mayor in 2023.

Garcia was elected to the U.S. House back in 2018.

How do I register to vote in Illinois?

There are several ways to register to vote in Illinois. 

You can register online through the Illinois State Board of Elections website if you have a valid Illinois driver's license or state ID card. 

You can also register to vote by mail by obtaining a mail-in voter registration form from your local election authority or downloading one from the Illinois State Board of Elections website. 

Additionally, you can register to vote in person at your local election authority's office, at certain state agencies, or at any Illinois Secretary of State office when applying for or renewing a driver's license or state ID card.

The registration deadline for by-mail is Feb. 20, while online registration must be completed by March 3. 

Eligible voters can also register to vote at polling places on the day of the primary.

Illinois residents can register to vote at any of the following locations:

  • County Clerk's Office
  • Board of Election Commissioner's Office
  • City and Village Offices
  • Township Offices
  • Precinct Committeeman
  • Schools
  • Public Libraries
  • Military Recruitment Offices

Where can I view real-time Illinois primary results?

FOX 32 will be live as the votes come in on March 19, tallying all the latest results and offering real-time analysis.

Can I vote early for the Illinois primary?

Yes, early voting in most Illinois counties opens up on March 4 leading up to March 19.

Eligible voters can take advantage of the early voting period at the following hours:

  • Weekdays: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
  • Saturday: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Sunday: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

For residents in Chicago, early voting locations are available at The Supersite, located at 191 N. Clark, and the Board Offices, located on the 6th floor of 69 W. Washington Blvd.

For a list of voting locations in all 50 Chicago wards, which open on March 4, click here.

What do primary elections decide?

Primary elections allow political parties to select their candidates for various elected offices, including president, governor, senator, representative, and other state and local positions.

The outcomes of primary elections often determine the final nominees who will represent their parties in the general election on Nov. 5.

When is the Democratic National Convention in Chicago?

The Democratic National Convention will be held at the United Center from Monday, Aug. 19 through Thursday, Aug. 22.

Delegates from all 50 states will be in attendance along with roughly 70,000 other visitors and members of the media.

For more information on voting and Election Day resources, head over to the Illinois State Board of Elections website.