Student Voter Guide for the Illinois 2020 Primary Election

This guide will help you participate in the Illinois March 17 primary, in which you can help choose America’s presidential nominees, along with candidates for U.S. Senate, the House of Representatives, and state and local offices.

Voter registration in Illinois is nonpartisan; you do not select a political party when you register. You select the ballot for a specific political party in order to vote in the Illinois primary. The Democratic Party and the Republican Party have agreed to participate.

Dates and Deadlines

  • Primary election date: March 17, 2020, 6 AM to 7 PM
  • Early voting at election authority locations: February 6 to March 16
  • Last date for regular voter registration: February 18
  • Online voter registration ends: March 1
  • Grace period registration and voting at election authority locations: February 19 to March 17
  • Last date for absentee ballot request to be received: March 12

Why this primary matters

You have a chance to help determine the presidential nominees for one of the two major political parties, along with state and local nominees. Democratic Party presidential delegates are allotted proportionately to all candidates who surpass a 15% minimum, while Republican Party delegates are split between district delegates and statewide delegates, with both being Winner Take All.

Candidate information

For Republican and Democratic presidential candidate websites, CNN has a complete list. Politico also has a quick guide to Democratic candidate positions.


You are eligible to vote in Illinois if you are:

  • A United States citizen
  • At least 17 years old on or before the date of the primary election, and 18 on or before the General Election on November 3.
  • A resident of your election precinct at least 30 days before Election Day
  • Not serving a sentence of confinement in any penal institution as a result of a conviction
  • Not claiming the right to vote elsewhere

How to register to vote

You may be able to register to vote while using the services  of a number of state offices, including the Secretary of State Driver’s Services facilities. You can also register to vote online, or download a voter registration application form (Español) to register by mail. You can register and vote in-person during a grace period that happens after regular registration ends. And you can register on Election Day at your local polling place. Use this tool for schedules and grace period locations or check with your local election authority.

ID Requirements for registering

To register in person, you need two forms of identification, with at least one showing your current residence address. 

To register by mail, you will need: a driver’s license, Illinois ID card, or Social Security number. If you do not have any of these, and you are registering for the first time in your current jurisdiction, you will need to send a copy of a current and valid photo ID, or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, or other government document (including a check) that shows your name and address.

You may also submit a copy of an ID card issued by a college or university, accompanied by either a copy of your contract or lease for a residence or any postmarked mail delivered to you at your current residence address. 

ID Requirements for voting

Illinois does not require ID when voting at the polls or by mail, except for first time voters who did not provide an acceptable ID when they registered. If you’re in this category, you will need to provide one of the forms of ID listed above under “ID Requirements for registering.” You may also be required to show ID if your voting status has been challenged at the polls. If that challenge is sustained, you may still vote by provisional ballot.

Absentee/early voting

You may cast a ballot in person before Election Day without needing a reason. This pamphlet explains early voting in Illinois. A list of early voting locations and schedules is available on the Illinois Board of Elections website and local election authority websites. You may also vote by mail; you can obtain a ballot from your local election authority through the mail or in person.

Address to use for registering and voting

Per federal election law, college students can register and vote at either their campus address or their permanent home address, which may be out of state. However, voters can only be registered at one address. If you are not going to physically be in the state where you plan to vote, you will need to request an absentee ballot.

It’s your choice where to register. Registering at your campus address will not:

  • Affect your federal financial aid
  • Prevent your parents from claiming you as a dependent on their taxes
  • Cost you any scholarships, unless they’re tied to specific residency requirements
  • Affect your tuition status as an in-state or out-of-state student

Key Resources