Your Rights

Becoming a Legal Adult: Voting Q & A

Q: What are the requirements for voting?

A: You must be 18 or older, a U.S. citizen and a resident of Illinois for 30 days before the election. However, if you have been an Illinois resident fewer than 30 days, you may vote where you lived before. If you have recently moved from one part of the state to another, you can vote at the polling place in your new precinct by presenting an affidavit obtained through the State Board of Elections. If you will turn 18 fewer than 30 days before the election you can vote, but you must still register at least 30 days before the election.

Q: What kind of information will the registration form require?

A: You will be asked to complete a form which lists your full legal name, home address, date of birth, telephone number (optional), ID number (the last four or six digits of your social security number are requested), your choice of party (you may leave this blank or write "no party"), race or ethnic group (again, this is optional), and your signature which will affirm that you meet all the requirements for registering to vote in Illinois:

  • A citizen of the US
  • Will be a resident of Illinois and your election precinct for at least 30 days before the next election
  • Will be 18 years of age by the next election
  • Are not in jail or on parole for a felony conviction
  • Do not claim the right to vote anywhere else

Q: Where do I vote?

A: Your local government establishes places to vote ("polling places"), usually at a school, city hall or a similar place. For information on your polling place, contact your county clerk or the local government official in charge of elections. If you will be out of the area on an Election Day, you may obtain an absentee ballot (see below).

Q: Where do I register to vote?

A: Students can register at school as Illinois law allows a school principal or a person designated by the principal to register students from that school. Local governments also establish other registration places. You may register to vote at a local office of the Secretary of State (driver facilities). Illinois is fully implementing the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993 throughout the state. Since October of 1996, when litigation ceased, Illinois has operated under a unitary system of registration. This means that registered voters are eligible to vote the full ballot. Voter registration opportunities are available by all methods mandated by the NVRA: state drivers license facilities, social service agency registration and mail registration.

Q: May I vote if I have not registered before Election Day?

A: No.

Q: May college students vote in the city where they go to school?

A: Yes, if you register to vote in that city or show a change of residence from your hometown. Otherwise, your residence for voting is determined by where your parents vote, or wherever your permanent address may be.

Q: May I vote if I will not be in my voting district on Election Day or cannot appear at the polling place?

A: Yes, you can vote by absentee ballot if you apply in advance for an official ballot—contact your county clerk for more information.

Q: If I'm convicted of a crime, may I still vote?

A: A person convicted of a felony, or otherwise under sentence in a correctional institution or jail, loses the right to vote. The right to vote is restored upon completion of the sentence.

Download the full Becoming a Legal Adult Booklet here

Note: This information was prepared as a public service by the Illinois State Bar Association. Every effort has been made to provide accurate information at the time of publication. For the most current information, please consult your lawyer. If you need a lawyer and do not have one, visit our lawyer referral page

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