2022 Election: Early voting & vote by mail start across Illinois. This is what to know

Derik Holtmann/dholtmann@bnd.com

For those who won’t be available Tuesday, Nov. 8, or who would simply like to skip the wait at the polls, early voting across Illinois began Thursday.

A number of high-profile races are on the midterm ballot, including governor, U.S. representatives, state senators and more.

The early, in-person voting period continues through Monday, Nov. 7, and voters can also vote by mail.

We’ve rounded up some basics on voting before Election Day in Illinois and what you need to know to do so.

How do I check my registration or register to vote in Illinois?

If you’re not already registered to vote in Illinois or need to make a change to your registration – like update your address – you can use the state’s online voter registration portal.

The registration portal closes at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23, but if you miss the deadline, you can still register and vote through Nov. 8 under the state’s grace period. To register after Oct. 23, you will need to visit your county election authority.

Eligible voters in Illinois:

  • Must be U.S. citizens

  • Must be at least 18 years old (for primaries, 17 years old and 18 on or before the General Election)

  • Must live in the precinct at least 30 days before the election

  • Must not claim the right to vote elsewhere

  • Must not be serving a sentence in a penal institution following a conviction

New registrants will need a driver’s license or state identification number, the date the document was issued, the last four digits of their Social Security number and their birth date.

If you are unsure about your registration status in Illinois or want to make sure your information is up to date, you can use the state’s voter registration lookup tool and enter your first and last name, date of birth and zip code.

IL voter registration portal closes Oct. 23. How to check your status, register to vote

How do I vote by mail in Illinois?

Thursday is also the first day county election authorities will begin mailing out ballots to those who have requested to vote via that means. Illinois does not require an excuse to vote by mail, and any registered voter may do so.

The vote-by mail application period opened in the state Aug. 10 and runs through Thursday, Nov. 3, online or by mail to your county elections office. You can continue to request a mail-in ballot in person at your elections authority through Nov. 7.

The deadline for those who vote under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act – the military and those temporarily living abroad – to request a ballot is Monday, Oct. 31.

You can find the electronic portal to request your mail-in ballot from the state online, and military and overseas voters have a separate application form.

Once you’ve received your ballot and filled it out completely, you must return it to your elections authority by Election Day for your vote to be counted.

If you return your ballot by mail, it must be postmarked by Election Day and received within 14 days.

You can also take your completed mail-in ballot to an authorized drop box. You can use the state’s online portal to find a drop box in your jurisdiction.

Voting early in Illinois? Here’s where metro-east voters can cast a ballot

How can I vote early in Illinois?

Like mail-in voting, any eligible voter can cast a ballot early and in-person in Illinois.

Counties set their own early voting locations and hours, and you can use the state’s early voting portal to find an early voting location in your county.

For those who need it, curbside voting is also available during early voting.

If you have previously voted in Illinois, you will not need to present a photo identification to vote.

Metro-east voters have a number of locations, depending on county of residence, to begin voting as early as Thursday. Here’s a list.