David Orr, Cook County Clerk
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Voting at Age 17
Guidelines for Registering 

Q: What are the requirements to vote in the March 18, 2014 Primary?

You must:

  • Be a U.S. Citizen
  • Be born on or before Nov. 4, 1996
  • Live at the address listed on your registration at least 30 days prior to the election 
  • Not claim the right to vote anywhere else

Q: Where and how can I register?

It is likely your school will provide registration opportunities. We are coordinating a 17-year-old voter registration drive at suburban Cook County high schools between Feb. 3-7.

However, beginning on January 1st, you can also:

  • Complete an online application provided by the Illinois State Board of Elections and then print, sign and mail it in. 
  • Register in person: with a deputy registrar; at one of the Cook County Clerk's Office’s six locations; at a village, city or township clerk’s office; or at an Illinois Secretary of State's driver license facility.
  • Fill out a mail-in registration form that can be either mailed to the Clerk's office or turned into a school official conducting voter registration. A helpful tip sheet is also available for those who are distributing or completing this mail-in registration form.

Q: What do I need to register?

If registering in person, you must display two pieces of identification. Neither form needs to be a photo ID, but one must include your current address. Acceptable forms of ID include: Illinois driver’s license, Illinois state ID, employee or student ID, credit card, Social Security card, birth certificate, utility bill in applicant’s name, mail postmarked to the applicant, valid U.S. passport, public aid ID card, pay stub, lease or rental contract.

If registering by mail or online, you must provide an Illinois driver’s license number OR an Illinois state ID number OR the last four digits of your Social Security number.

Q: What if I don’t have identification information when I register?

Regardless of how you register – in person, online or by mail – providing an Illinois driver’s license number OR an Illinois state ID number OR the last four digits of your Social Security will help expedite the process. If possible, obtain the information before you apply. If you do not have that information, submit the application and we will contact you regarding what information is needed to complete the registration.

Q: What are the registration dates and deadlines?

  • Jan. 1, 2014:  First day 17-year-olds can register to vote
  • Feb. 18, 2014: Last day of voter registration for the March Primary
  • Note: If a 17-year-old registers before Jan. 1, the application will not be processed. However, if you will be 18 by March 18, 2014 you do not have to wait until January 1st as you are eligible to register now.

Q: What if I miss the deadline?

If you miss the Feb. 18 deadline, you can still register and vote during grace period registration. Between Feb. 19 and March 15, grace period registration will be conducted at numerous suburban sites. During the grace period, voters register and vote immediately.

Q: How do I know that I registered successfully? Who will I be voting for?  Where is my polling place?

You can find the answer to all three of these questions by visiting the “Your Voter Information” tool on our website. We will also mail you a voter registration card.

Q: Do I register as a Democrat or Republican?

No. In Illinois, voters do not register by party.

Q: What are my voting options?

A: Like any other registered voter, 17-year-olds can vote one of three ways: on Election Day, during Early Voting or by mail.

Q: Will I need to show ID to vote?

A: During Early Voting, all voters must show a government-issued photo ID. Eligible forms of ID include: a driver’s license, state ID card, U.S. passport, a public high school ID. Private-school IDs do not qualify as government-issued IDs. On Election Day, students will be asked to show a photo ID if they registered with the mail-in form and we were unable to confirm their identity through the ID number provided. (In this case private school IDs or a government document with name and address would also work.) This is more likely for students who simply provide a Social Security number when registering rather than an IL driver’s license number or state ID number.

Q: What is a primary election?

A: In a primary, candidates within the same political party compete for the opportunity to represent their party on the General Election ballot against representatives of other parties. In a primary, you can only vote for the candidates of one party.  The party that you select is your decision and you always have the option to vote for candidates of a different party in the future.

Q: Does how I vote in the primary affect how I must vote in the general election?

No. Voters may vote for one party in the primary, and vote for candidates of any party in the general election.

Q: Do I need to vote for every contest?

No. Voters may choose to only vote for certain races.

Q: Do I need to re-register in the future?

You need to re-register every time you move or change your name.

Q: If I go away to college, where should I register to vote?

It is up to you to determine whether you would like to stay registered at your home/parents’ address or re-register to vote at your new school address.  It is illegal to attempt to vote from both addresses.

If you choose to vote from your home/parents’ address, you can vote one of three ways: by mail, at a suburban Cook County early voting site or at your home precinct on Election Day.