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Emily Robinson collects new voter registration forms at a registration drive in Wicker Park Saturday.

Everything you need to know to vote

by Samantha Abernethy
Oct 01, 2008

The deadline to register to vote is rapidly approaching. A record number of new voters is expected to participate this year. Check here to make sure you are prepared for Election Day on November 4.

Who Needs to Register

• If you have never voted before. If you will be 18 by Election Day, you are eligible to register.

• You need to register if you have moved since you last registered, or if you have changed your name.

• If you live in Chicago, you can check your registration status at (If you live in suburban CookCounty, Lake, Kane, DuPage, McHenry or Will counties, you can find links to those election sites on the chicagoelections home page.)

Registration Deadlines
• You can register in person at the Chicago Board of Election office at 69 W. Washington St., any public library or any Secretary of State drivers-license facility.

• Or you can pick up a registration form at any public library or get one online at and mail it in. Mail-in registration must be postmarked by Tuesday, Oct. 7.

• If you register in person, there are two deadlines. You can register by Oct. 7 to cast your ballot on Election Day. If you miss the Oct. 7 deadline, you can still register in person from Oct. 8 until Oct. 21 at the election board office at 69 W. Washington St., but you also must cast your ballot at the same time.

• If you have completed and mailed a voter registration form, but have not received your voter registration card in the mail by two weeks before the election, call the Chicago Board of Election at 312-269-7900, if you live in Chicago. Suburban residents should contact their county’s board of elections.

Early Voting
• Any registered voter has the option of voting early, starting Monday, Oct. 13 and ending Thursday, Oct. 30.
• In Chicago, voters can go to one of 51 early voting locations, one in each ward plus the Board of Election office, Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. All locations are listed on the Chicago Elections Board Web site.

• The Board of Election office is also open for early voting 9 a.m. to noon Sundays.
• Suburban voters can find voting locations on the countyWeb sites.

• Voters must present a photo ID when voting early.

Absentee Ballot Deadlines
• In order to vote by absentee ballot in Illinois, you must have a valid reason. This includes college students, military service members, election officials, voters with disabilities, voters observing a religious holiday, and voters who are sequestered with a jury.
• Request an absentee ballot by contacting the CountyClerk’s office at 312-603-0906.
• Oct. 30 is the last day that military and overseas voters may apply for an absentee ballot.
• You can also vote absentee in-person, Oct. 31 to Nov. 3 at the CountyClerk’s office and at the clerk’s six suburban regional courthouses.

How to Vote on Election Day
• If you live in Chicago, find your Election Day polling place by entering your address at (Suburban residents should check their countyWeb site.)

• You must vote at your assigned polling place.
• To find more in-depth information on candidates and policies, visit
• For instructions on using the voting machines, visit