Illinois Student Voting Guide  

Registration Deadlines

  • Voter Registration Deadline: 28 days before Election Day.

Grace period registration and early voting is available until the Monday before Election Day. You must bring two pieces of ID to register. Contact your local county clerk for locations.

What Type of ID Do I Need to Register?

  • The Illinois voter registration form asks for your Illinois driver’s license or ID number, or the last four digits of your Social Security Number. Failure to provide this information could lead to you having to show additional identification when you vote that shows your picture or your name and address. Make sure to provide this information on the registration form so the state can verify your identity and you don’t run into issues when you cast your ballot.
  • Two forms of identification with at least one showing your current residence address are needed when you register in-person. These are some examples: driver’s license, social security card, public aid identification card, utility bill, employee or student identification card, lease or contract for a residence, credit card, or a civic, union or professional association membership card.
  • Voters with an Illinois driver’s license or state ID may now also register at: https://ova.elections.il.gov/.

Register at School or Home?

Students have a choice about where to register to vote.

School address:

  • Students attending college in Illinois may register at their school address. You must plan to return after temporary absences, like summer break, but do not have to plan to reside at that address permanently.

Permanent address:

  • Students may choose to register or remain registered at a permanent address in Illinois or outside the state. In this case, students may need to vote by absentee ballot.

You may only be registered and vote in one location.

What Type of ID Do I Need to Vote?

You do not need any ID to vote early or on Election Day in Illinois. The only exception is for first-time mail-in registrants who failed to provide a driver’s license number, state ID number, or the last 4 digits of their Social Security Number.

Where Do I Vote?

The Illinois State Board of Elections maintains a polling place locator online at: http://www.elections.il.gov/ VotingInformation/RegistrationLookup.aspx.

Contact your local election authority about where you can vote in person, either early or on Election Day.

Voters must cast their ballots in the correct precinct. Sometimes there are multiple precincts in one polling place, so confirm your precinct ahead of time and get in the correct line!

How Can I Vote?

You have a number of options for casting your ballot, but of course you can only pick just one.

By Mail

  • Any voter can vote absentee. No excuse is needed. Illinois does not require voters to turn up in person the first time they vote in the state or in a new county.
  • An absentee ballot application can be submitted in person or by mail. You must submit your absentee ballot application (which can be obtained from your local election authority) between 90 days and 5 days before the election or, if requesting it in person, by 1 day before Election Day. The application will be available on the Illinois State Board of Elections website.
  • Absentee ballots must either be returned in person by the close of the polls by the voter or any person authorized by the voter, or be postmarked no later than 11:59 p.m. on the night prior to the election and received within 14 days of Election Day.
  • Out-of-state students who are considering voting absentee in their home state outside of Illinois should first determine absentee requirements for their state. Some states do not allow voting by mail for first-time voters. Also, some states require copies of identification be mailed with an absentee ballot.

Early In Person

  • All voters may vote early in person without an excuse. Contact your local election authority to figure out which polling places have been designated for early voting in your county.
  • Illinois also offers early voting at local election authority offices from the 40th day before Election Day through the day before Election Day. Early voting sites must remain open either 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. However, starting 8 days before Election Day, any permanent polling place or early voting site must remain open until 7 p.m., regardless of whether it opens at 8:30 a.m. or 9 a.m. A permanent polling place or early voting site must remain open from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Finally, any designated permanent polling place or early voting site must be open for at least 14 hours on the final weekend of early voting.

On Election Day at the Polls

  • The polls are open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m.
  • Election Day registration is also available.

Will voting in Illinois affect my federal financial aid?

Where you register to vote will not affect federal financial aid such as Pell Grants and Perkins or Stafford loans or your dependency status regarding FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). 

Does being an out-of-state student for tuition purposes affect my right to vote in my college community?

No. You may choose to vote in your college community or back home regardless of your tuition status.

Will I lose my scholarship if I register to vote in Illinois?

Generally, no. If you receive scholarship money from a state, county, town, or a private entity (i.e., an entity other than the federal government) you should confirm that residency in a particular place is not a requirement of the scholarship and/or that voter registration in Illinois will not affect your eligibility. 

Will registering to vote in Illinois affect my driver’s license or car registration?

Registering to vote makes you a resident under Illinois law and may require you to transfer your driver’s license or car registration in state. For more information, you may wish to contact the Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles.

Will registering to vote in Illinois prevent my parents from claiming me as a dependent on their taxes?

No. Students are often told that registering to vote in a different state from their parents will make them lose their dependency status. This is not true. Where you register to vote will have no effect on your parent’s tax status. 
This Guide was prepared by FELN staff who are not licensed to practice law in Illinois and FELN intends that the information contained herein is used only as a general guide. This document should not be used as a substitute for consultation with a licensed Illinois legal professional.

Last updated June 2016