Five months to go: Here's what you need to know to prepare to vote in Illinois' primary
Illinois voters are almost exactly five months away from a pandemic-delayed primary scheduled for June 28. So, now's the time to begin preparing for an election that will determine candidates for county, state and some federal offices.
Normally, the Illinois primaries are held in March or April, but the COVID-19 crisis delayed reporting of the census data used to determine new congressional and legislative boundaries, pushing back the timeline for the Election Day.
With some added time for decision making, here's a guide to voting in the primary, which will decide candidates for governor, U.S. Senate, Congress, General Assembly, county offices and more for the Nov. 8 general election.
Registering to vote
Registration cards can be found at your local post office, library or county clerk's office.
If you want to register in person, the deadline is May 31. Registering online offers a wider window, with the deadline on June 12.
To register online or to check your registration, go to ova.elections.il.gov.
Finding your congressional and legislative districts
For both Congress and General Assembly seats, the best way to find the district you are in, especially since district maps are changing, is to go online to the Illinois Board of Elections website, www.elections.il.gov.
Under the heading "Voter Services," click on "Find My Elected Officials." You'll find a map of Illinois. Click on the map and you'll see the state with a large white screen to the right. At the top of the white screen, type your address in the window under the words "Find My Elected Representative."
A list of offices will appear, including one called "2022 United States Congressperson." When you click on this link, you will see the congressional district you are in under the new map.
For your state Senate district, click on the link called "2022 Senator," and for your House district, click on "2022 State Representative."
You will not see any current officials named at these links. To see your current congressmen or legislators, you can click on the appropriate links listed, but remember, it will show you the current officials. They may change under the new maps.
Voting by mail
The first day to file an application for a vote-by-mail ballot is March 30, 2022. Online applications for a mail-in ballot open up on the same day. Your local county clerk's office must receive your request by June 23 if you wish to vote by mail in the June 28 primary.
Early voting in person
Limited early in-person voting begins at county clerk's offices and some temporary community locations on May 19. On June 13, early voting expands to permanent locations other than the clerk's office -- such as village halls or a similar public sites -- and polls must be open on holidays and weekends until early voting ends on June 27.
Candidate petition filings
The window for collecting candidate petition signatures opened on Jan. 13. Candidates can begin filing petitions from March 7 to 14.
Under this schedule, the previous time frame for collecting signatures was cut by 30 days, but the number of signatures required also was cut by one-third. The number of signatures required depends on the position and whether the candidate is seeking a party nomination or filing as an independent.
Seats on the ballot
The U.S. Senate seat currently held by Tammy Duckworth, a Hoffman Estates Democrat, is up for election, as well as all congressional seats.
The number of congressional seats statewide is down one from 18 due to the decline in state population. Lawmakers drew and Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law a new map that changes configurations of all districts.
To see the boundaries of your new district, follow the directions above regarding the 2022 congressional, state Senate and state House candidates.
Candidates for Congress are not required to reside in the districts they seek to represent.
The ballot will include contests for the following Illinois constitutional officers: governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, treasurer, secretary of state, comptroller and all state Senate and state House of Representatives seats.
County offices up for election vary slightly from county to county.
In Cook County, voters will select candidates for county board president, county commissioner, assessor, clerk, sheriff, treasurer, Board of Review and three seats on the nine-member board of the Water Reclamation District, along with judgeships on the Circuit Court of Cook County.
In DuPage County, voters will select candidates for county clerk, sheriff, treasurer and county board members in districts 1-6.
In Lake County, voters will select candidates for county clerk, regional superintendent of schools, sheriff, treasurer and county board in districts 1-19, as well as North Shore Water Reclamation District wards 1-5.
In Kane County, voters will select candidates for county clerk, sheriff, treasurer, county board districts 1-24 and regional superintendent of schools,
In McHenry County, voters will select candidates for county clerk, sheriff, treasurer, county board districts 1-9 and regional superintendent of schools.
In Will County, voters will select candidates for county clerk, sheriff, county board districts 1-3, treasurer and regional superintendent of schools.
Voters will see candidates for judicial circuits and subcircuits as well as the state Supreme Court on the primary ballot.
Learning about the candidates
You can find a wealth of information online about voting locations, deadlines and candidates at the Illinois State Board of Elections website, www.elections.il.gov.
For instance, you can find out how much money candidates have raised and from whom under the "Campaign Disclosures" tab. Current information is available only for known candidates at this time. Official up-to-date financial information for all state and federal candidates will be available after the March 14 filing deadline.
For additional information on campaign contributions, the Illinois Sunshine website -- illinoissunshine.org -- provides another option for searching campaign contributions using the same data reported by the Illinois Board of Election.
The website run by Reform for Illinois, a nonpartisan nonprofit advocacy organization, offers insight into what races may be competitive in relation to the amount of campaign funds raised so far.
Key dates leading up to the June 28 primaryTo file as a candidate: March 7 to 14
To apply for a vote-by-mail ballot: March 30 to June 23
To participate in early voting: May 19 to June 27
To register to vote: By May 31 in person, June 12 online