Voting in Illinois: What you need to know for the 2020 general election

With the 2020 general election approaching, FOX 32 has compiled a list of frequently asked questions about voting and registering to vote in Illinois. Whether you plan to vote by mail ahead of the election, or in-person at your designated polling place on Nov. 3, we want to ensure you are prepared.

Most information was provided by, however, we have isolated the most helpful information for your convenience.

Remember: The 2020 general election will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

The following are other important deadlines to consider in regards to the 2020 general election:

  • Oct. 6: Voter registration by mail deadline
  • Oct. 7:  First day for grace period registration and grace period voting
  • Oct. 18: Online voter registration deadline
  • Oct. 29: All requests for mail-in ballots must be received by the Election Authority 
  • Nov. 2  All in-person early voting requests must be made 

How do I register to vote?

First, make sure that you are qualified to vote in the state of Illinois. You must meet the following requirements in order to vote:

  • Be a United States citizen
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Live in your election precinct at least 30 days
  • Not be convicted and in jail
  • Not claim the right to vote anywhere else 

If you meet the qualifications listed above, you can then register to vote. When registering to vote, you have two options:

  1. You can register to vote online at:
  2. You can also print out a voter registration form and mail it in. You can find that form here.

Additionally, if you do not have a driver’s license, state ID card or social security number, and plan to submit your voter registration form by mail, and have never registered to vote in the jurisdiction you are now registering in, then you must send one of the following with your application:

  • a copy of a current and valid photo identification
  • a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows your name and address

If you do not provide the information above, you will be required to provide one of the two options listed above to election officials the first time you vote at a voting place or by absentee ballot.

If you mail-in your voter registration, you should receive a notice within two weeks of mailing or delivering the application. If you do not receive a notice, call your County Clerk or Board of Election commissioners.

If you would like to check the status of your voter registration application, go to:

When is the deadline to register to vote?

Mail-in: If you plan to vote in the 2020 general election, you must mail-in your voter registration form no later than Oct. 6.

Online: To vote in the 2020 general election, you must register to vote online by 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 18. Online voter registration will not reopen until Nov. 5.

How do I check to see if I'm registered?

If you would like to check to see if you are currently registered to vote in the state of Illinois, or if you would like to check your district information, you can click here or go to:

What if I miss the deadline to register to vote?

Uh oh. You forgot to register on time? Don't fret! You still may be eligible to register to vote during the grace period

Grace period registration allows each election authority to allow voters to register or change their address during the period from the close of registration through Election Day.

Although the traditional voter registration period closes 28 days prior to the election, grace period registration extends that deadline from the 27th day prior to an election (Oct. 7)  through Election Day.

PLEASE NOTE: Grace period registration is only available in-person and at designated sites.

You can register and vote during the grace period at the following places:

  • at the office of the election authority;
  • at a permanent polling place established by the election authority;
  • at any other early voting site beginning 15 days prior to the elections;
  • at some polling places on Election Day;
  • at a location specifically designated for this purpose by the election authority.

To search for a location that offers grace period registration in your jurisdiction, click here

What do I need in order to register to vote during the grace period?

To register to vote or to vote during the grace period, you will need:

  • U.S citizenship
  • To be at least 18 years of age by Election Day
  • To be a resident of the precinct at least 30 days prior to Election Day; and
  • Two forms of Identification 

Where do I vote on Nov. 3? Can I vote anywhere?

You must vote at your designated polling place.

You can find your polling place by going to the Polling Place Locator on the Illinois State Board of Elections website.

You will then fill out the requested information, which includes your zip code, street number and street name. Once the information is entered in, hit submit.

From there, the system will provide the location of your election day polling place.

What time do polls open and what time do polls close on Election Day?

The polls are open from 6 a.m. - 7 p.m. on Nov. 3. Each voter must vote at their precinct polling place. Check your polling place location with the election authority for your jurisdiction

What do I need to bring when I go to vote?

If you have voted in Illinois before OR provided your ID at the time of mail-in registration, you do not need to show an ID when you go to vote. However, if it is your first time voting in Illinois and have not yet provided your driver's license number, state ID number, last 4 digits of your Social Security number, a copy of a current and valid photo ID, a utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check, or other government documentation, you'll need to provide one of those when you vote in person during early voting or on Election Day.


How do I vote by mail?

Due to COVID-19, many Illinois residents are opting to vote by mail. 

You are eligible to vote by mail if you are:

  • A qualified elector of the state of Illinois who is properly registered to vote
  • A registered or non-registered member of the U.S. Armed Forces while on active duty, members of the Merchant Marines, and/or U.S. government employees serving outside the U.S., as well as their spouse and dependent(s) who expect to be absent from their county of residence on Election Day.
  • A registered and non-registered citizen of the U.S. temporarily out of the country, and their spouse and dependent(s) of voting age when residing with or accompanying them who maintain a precinct residence in Illinois.
  • Any State or federal employee (and their spouse) who had a voting residence in the precinct at the time they entered employment, but who now reside elsewhere due to state or federal employment, may retain their voting rights in that precinct

Luckily, the process of requesting a mail-in ballot isn't too difficult.

Voters must obtain a vote by mail application from their election authority, in-person or online, to request a vote by mail ballot. 

To find out how you can apply for a mail-in ballot in your jurisdiction, click hereNOTE: Every jurisdiction operates differently, so be sure to read your jurisdiction's guidelines carefully.

After navigating to the "Voting By Mail Agreement" page in the link above, select your jurisdiction, followed by the "submit" button. From there, you will be given instructions on how to apply for a mail-in ballot. Again, every jurisdiction is different.

All requests by mail must be received by your Election Authority by Oct. 29.

PLEASE NOTE: For your ballot to be counted, it must be postmarked by Election Day and be received by 14 days after Election Day.

Can someone else turn in my ballot for me?

A voter may authorize any person to return their ballot to the election authority, as long as the voter has signed the affidavit on the ballot envelope affirming that authorization was given to deliver the ballot.

What if I request a mail-in ballot, but decide I want to vote in-person on Election Day instead?

If you have requested to vote by mail, but decide to vote at the polls on election day, you can vote in-person on Election Day IF:

  • The voter submits to election judges their vote by mail ballot, or a portion of the ballot for cancellation
  • The voter fills out affidavit stating that they never received the vote by mail ballot
  • Voter fills out affidavit stating they completed and returned the vote by mail ballot and the election authority did not receive it.

When is early voting held?

The period for early voting begins the 40th day preceding an election (Sept. 24) and extends through the end of the day before Election Day (Nov. 2).

How does early in-person voting work?

You do not need to provide a reason for wanting to vote early and in-person for the 2020 general election.

There are a variety of places that will allow you to vote early and in-person, depending on your jurisdiction.

To find out where you are able to vote early and in-person, click here. Once you navigate to the Early Voting locations page, choose "2020 general election" and your jurisdiction. From there a list of early voting sites will appear. 

You can also drop off your ballot at a Vote by Mail Ballot Box in your jurisdiction. For a list of locations, click here

All in-person early voting requests must be made by Nov. 2.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The votes cast during the early voting period will not be counted until after the polls close on Election Day.

Who are the candidates running for open positions in the upcoming election?

In addition to the 2020 presidential election, there are also several other positions in Illinois that will show up on your ballot, depending on your jurisdiction.

For a list of candidates and open positions in Illinois, visit

How do I report a voting/polling problem?

If you wish to file a complaint for a violation of provisions of the Election Code, you can submit the complaint in writing to the Executive Director at the address below:

Steve Sandvoss
Executive Director, Illinois State Board of Elections
2329 S. MacArthur Blvd., Springfield IL, 62704

What if I need to contact my local election authorities?

Illinois has 108 election authorities who are responsible for handling local voter registration programs, training election judges, selecting polling places, getting ballots printed, overseeing Election Day activities and supervising the vote count at the local level.

These election authorities consist of county clerks in 101 counties, one county election commissions and 6 municipal election commissions. 

If you need to contact your local election authorities, you can do so here

How do I vote if I'm in the military or live overseas?

There are several options for members of the Uniformed Services, eligible dependents of members of the Uniformed Services and overseas voters who are looking to vote in the 2020 general election:

  1. Those who meet the qualifications above can utilize the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) site to vote.
  2. Overseas citizens and members of the Uniformed Services can also utilize the Federal Voting Assitance Program found here:
  3. iF you are running out of time, you can also utilize the Special State Write-in Ballot, which can be found on the Illinois Board of Elections website.