Note: As votes are counted across Illinois on election night, you can track results live on NBCChicago.com and in the NBC Chicago app. You can also click here.
The 2022 primary election is well underway in Illinois, as early voting wraps up, and Election Day voting for the June 28 Illinois Primary begins.
Here's a look at some essential resources and information to help you feel prepared and informed as you perform your civic duty and make your voice heard.
Feeling out of the loop? We'll catch you up on the Chicago news you need to know. Sign up for the weekly Chicago Catch-Up newsletter here.
One important note: You can always find detailed information and answers to your specific questions by contacting your local election authority. In Chicago, that's the Chicago Board of Elections. In Cook County outside of the city, and in the surrounding suburban counties, your local election authority is your county clerk's office.
When is the primary election in Illinois?
This year, Illinois' primary election will be held on Tuesday, June 28.
Typically held in March ahead of a general election, lawmakers passed a measure last year to postpone the primary election by roughly three months as they awaited the release of detailed U.S. Census data. That data, collected in 2020, was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic but is essential to the process of redrawing district maps (known as redistricting) that's completed every 10 years following the Census.
How to register to vote in Illinois
Are you registered to vote in Illinois? If you're not sure, you can check here by entering your name, address and birth date.
To register to vote in Illinois, you must be a U.S. citizen, 18 years old by the date of the general election on Nov. 8, and not serving a sentence in a penal institution because of a criminal conviction.
If you're not registered yet, it's not too late! You can still register to vote, and vote, at your polling place on Election Day.
To do so, you have to bring two forms of identification, one with your current address (like a utility bill), and be prepared to cast your ballot at the same time. If you've moved since the last time you voted, you can also use grace period registration to update your registration to your current address.
A full list of locations where you can take advantage of grace period registration can be found here.
How to vote in Illinois
There are three ways to vote in Illinois, with details on each listed below:
1: You can request a mail-in ballot and return it by either sending it through the U.S. Postal Service or by hand delivering it to your local election authority at an approved drop-off location. It must be post-marked by Election Day in order to be counted.
2: You can vote early in person at an early voting location in your jurisdiction, open through Election Day on June 28.
3: On Election Day, you can vote in person at your precinct's specific polling place or, if your local election authority allows, at another voting location within your jurisdiction that will be open on June 28.
Here's what you need to know about each of the three options:
How to vote by mail in Illinois
Anyone registered to vote in Illinois is eligible to vote by mail, no excuse needed.
Voters have until June 23 to request a mail ballot, though election officials advise you apply as early as possible to allow enough time for the ballot to arrive and be returned. To be counted, your mail ballot must be postmarked by Election Day and arrive within 14 days after.
You can find more information about voting by mail on the Illinois State Board of Elections website here or through your local election authority, which is where you can find an application to request a mail-in ballot.
If you requested to vote by mail and want to hand deliver your ballot, bypassing the U.S. Postal Service, you can do so in person at your election authority's office or designated drop box locations.
How to vote early in the Chicago area
Thousands have already cast their ballot in-person ahead of Election Day. Note, however, that in many counties, Election Day polling locations are often different from early voting locations.
How to vote on Election Day
If you prefer to cast your ballot on Election Day, in most counties in Illinois you have just one option: your designated polling place. If you don't know where that is, you can find it by entering your address here on the State Board of Elections website.
If you are a resident of Chicago, suburban Cook County or DuPage County, you have a few more options on Election Day.
In Chicago, all early voting sites will remain open on Election Day for all voters in the city, as will two locations that are open to suburban Cook County residents: 69 W. Washington St. and the Union Station Founders Room at 225 S. Canal St.
And new this year, DuPage County has announced that it is the first county in Illinois to allow voters to cast a ballot at any of its 263 polling places on Election Day.
When are polls open on Election Day?
Polls open at 6 a.m. statewide, 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.
See who's on your ballot in Illinois
There are so many important races happening in Illinois this election, so we've created a tool to help you learn who your representatives are - and who's running against them - before you vote.
For a complete sample ballot, including all local and judicial races, be sure to visit your local election authority's website. But to find out who you can vote for in many of the major races (for governor, congress and in the state legislature), enter your address below:
Who’s On Your Ballot?
Find out who will be on your Illinois ballot in the 2022 primary election.
Source: Illinois Board of Elections
Credit: Amy O’Kruk/NBC
What are the races to watch in Illinois?
There are countless races up and down the ballot across Illinois with important and interesting narratives, some garnering national attention in another contentious and high-stakes election cycle.
Here's a look at nine of the biggest races you should be watching in the Chicago area and across the state:
How to research judges on the ballot
Some of the names on your ballot this election are judges, who are elected from specific districts or circuits, not statewide, so the judges you vote for will be different based on where you live.
This year, there are two vacancies on the Illinois Supreme Court. In the Second District (which includes Lake, McHenry, DeKalb, Kane and Kendall counties), there are four candidates running in the Republican primary and three on the Democratic ballot. For the Third District (which includes DuPage, Will, Kankakee, Iroquois, Grundy, LaSalle and Bureau counties), there is just one candidate for each party, both guaranteed to win their respective primaries and compete against one another for the vacancy in the November general election.
On the Illinois Appellate Court, there are five vacancies: two in the First District, which is Cook County alone, and one each in the Second, Third and downstate Fifth districts.
Then there's Illinois' circuit court system. The state has 24 judicial circuits, six of which are a single county: Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will. The circuit courts deal with millions of legal cases every year, on everything from crime to civil lawsuits, divorce, adoption, eviction, traffic tickets, workers' compensation, wills and more.
There are two types of judges in Illinois' circuit court system: circuit judges, who are elected by voters for a six-year term and then up for a retention vote for each term thereafter, and associate judges, who are appointed by other judges.
In Cook County, two-thirds of the roughly 400 judges are elected - either countywide or on a subcircuit, which is a particular portion of the county, similar to a district. This primary cycle, there are 27 vacancies in the Cook County Circuit Court that are on the ballot: 10 countywide and 17 in subcircuits.
Of the nearly 50 other circuit court vacancies on primary ballots in Illinois outside Cook County this election, about 12 are competitive, with more than one candidate.
There are plenty of resources to help you decide who to vote for and who to retain, including evaluations of each judge by several local bar associations (organizations made up of attorneys). You can find those recommendations on judges' qualifications from organizations like the Chicago Bar Association, the Chicago Council of Lawyers and the Illinois State Bar Association, among several others, on VoteforJudges.org.
For a more in-depth analysis of just Cook County, Injustice Watch has compiled information on each candidate, including their backgrounds, any controversies, ratings, fundraising and more.
What should I bring to vote in person?
If you are taking advantage of grace period registration, you need to bring two forms of ID, one with your address, like a utility bill, bank statement, pay stub, etc.
If you are already registered to vote at your current address, you do not need a government-issued photo ID to vote under Illinois law. But it can be helpful to bring one should any questions about registration, address, signature, or more arise during the voting process.
And if you need notes to help you remember which candidates you want to vote for, go ahead and bring them! You are legally allowed to bring written or printed materials into the voting booth to assist you.
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 long 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 should I do if I run into any problems voting?
While millions of people will cast their ballots without any issues, 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 simply have questions about the process, you are encouraged to call the Election Protection hotlines 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-YallaUS (1-844-925-5287): Arabic/English
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 live Illinois election results
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 right here on NBCChicago.com or through the NBC Chicago app, where you can turn on notifications to be the first to know about winners of the biggest races.