Illinois primary

Your Guide to the 2020 Illinois Primary Election

Learn more about some of the state's biggest races, where you can vote early, what will be on your ballot and more in this voter guide to the Illinois primary election

What to Know

  • The Illinois primary election is on March 17, with several major races on the ballot
  • Early voting has already begun, with locations open in all 50 wards in Chicago
  • Not registered to vote? You still can by bringing two forms of identification to your polling place

Election day in Illinois is here, with voters across the state heading to the polls. Here's a look at some essential resources to help you prepare to cast your ballot —

When is the Illinois primary?

Illinois' primary election falls on March 17 this year - St. Patrick's Day and two weeks after "Super Tuesday," when 16 primaries or caucuses were held at once across the country. Voters will head to the polls in Illinois on the same day as voters in Arizona, Florida and Ohio. But for those Illinoisans who have already made up their minds, early voting is available now through March 16.


What are the big races to watch?

From the Democratic primary for president, to the only statewide race this cycle, as well as the contentious campaign for Cook County state's attorney, plus a Congressional rematch getting national attention, and an historic Illinois Supreme Court race – click here to read up on 10 big contests you should be watching in Illinois.


Where does the race for president stand?

The Democratic nominee will be officially selected by delegates in July at the party’s convention in Milwaukee. To win the nomination on the first ballot, a candidate must have locked up support from a simple majority of the 3,979 pledged delegates, which would be 1,991. Take a look at the tracker below to see where the delegate count stands as the race continues.


See who's on your ballot

Enter your address below to find out who your representatives are, and who's running against them.

Who’s On Your Ballot?

Find out who will be on your Illinois Ballot in the March 17 presidential primary election.

Source: Illinois Board of Elections
Credit: Sam Hart/NBC, Amy O’Kruk/NBC

While this covers several of the most prominent races, please be sure to visit your local election authority's website for a full sample ballot that will look exactly like the one you'll see in the voting booth.


What questions will be on the ballot?

Nearly every election includes some sort of referendum, and this year is no different. In addition to voting for your candidates, you can weigh in on issues specific to your municipality. Click through to find the questions that will be asked of Chicago and suburban Cook County voters, as well as voters in suburban counties


Where can I early vote?

If you want to avoid the rush and cast your ballot before Election Day, you have plenty of options: 

Full list of 52 early voting sites in Chicago

Full list of 54 early voting sites for suburban Cook County residents

How to find early voting locations in the Chicago-area's suburban counties

With the exception of Will County, if your county offers multiple early voting locations, you can pick whichever one is most convenient for you.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, election officials in Chicago have extended early voting by one hour at all locations. Those hours will now be -

  • Friday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Saturday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Sunday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Monday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (certain sites open through 7 p.m.)

How to find your polling place

If you prefer to cast your ballot on Election Day, you have just one option: your designated polling place. If you don't know where that is, click here and choose your county to find out. 

As of Tuesday, polling places for election day changed for more than 200 precincts in Chicago over coronavirus concerns, election officials said, emphasizing the need to check the Chicago Board of Elections website here for the latest update before you head out to cast your ballot.

Not in Chicago? Be sure to look on your local election authority's website for the most updated information.


What time do polls open on election day?

Polls open at 6 a.m. statewide on March 17, and will stay open through 7 p.m. But remember - if you are IN LINE when polls close, you can still vote! So if you're rushing to your polling place at the last minute, don't worry if you see a line - and don't let anyone try to dissuade you from casting your ballot.


What do I need to vote?

While a government-issued photo ID is not required to vote under Illinois law, it can be helpful to bring one should any questions about registration, address, signature, or more arise during the voting process.

It's important to remember: you legally do not need any form of identification to cast your vote in Illinois, unless you are registering for the first time or changing your registration.


How to register to vote

If you're not registered in Illinois but still want to vote, it's not too late! You can take advantage of grace period registration through election day. You simply have to bring two forms of identification, one with your current address, to your polling place and be prepared to vote at the same time.

James Allen, spokesman for the Chicago Board of Elections, walks us through the process of voting on the city's newest ballot machines.

How to vote by mail

If you prefer to vote from the comfort of your own home, unfortunately as of Friday morning, the deadline to request a mail-in ballot has passed.

Chicago election officials urged voters earlier in the week to consider voting early or requesting a mail-in ballot as a health precaution amid the coronavirus outbreak, even extending the deadline to request to vote by mail through 12 a.m. Friday. But officials maintained that each polling place across the city would have hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes on site for those casting ballots on election day.

If you did request a mail-in ballot, your ballot must be postmarked on or before election day - and received by March 31 - to be counted. You can also personally deliver it to your election authority.

Remember, if you applied to vote by mail, you cannot later choose to vote at your polling place unless you bring the mail ballot in and surrender it to the election judges.

If you didn't make the deadline, you can find information on voting by mail for the next election via your local election authority's website: Details for Chicago voters can be found here, and information for suburban Cook County voters is on the clerk's website here. In order to vote by mail, you must already be registered to vote.


Can I take a ballot selfie?

NO. In Illinois, ballot selfies are prohibited by state law. It's a felony to mark your ballot so another person can see how you voted, carrying a potential prison sentence of one to three years.

State election officials have said it's "unlikely" anyone would be prosecuted for a ballot selfie, but you should play it safe and take a picture of your "I Voted" sticker or pose next to the polling place sign instead.


What to do if you run into problems voting

While millions of people will cast their ballots without any problems, some may be challenged on their voting eligibility, experience voter intimidation, or have trouble at their polling place.

If you run into any issues at all, or even have questions about the process, you are encouraged to call the Election Protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE (English only), 888-VE-Y-VOTA (English/Spanish) and 888-API-VOTE (English, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Bengali, Hindi, Urdu and Tagalog).

The hotline is run by a nonpartisan coalition of more than 100 organizations, led by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. 


How to get Illinois election results live

Live election day coverage will air on NBC 5 throughout the evening and at 10 p.m. You can also track up-the-minute race results live in the NBC Chicago app and right here on NBCChicago.com.

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