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Sunday, May 19

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In this column, which is a revision of the column I wrote for the Primary Election in February, I have tried to gather all the links and resources you need to register to vote, check your registration status, or find your polling place so you can vote in the General Election on November 2, 2004.

If you are not yet registered to vote, don't wait. The deadline to register is Tuesday, October 5, 2004.

Registering to Vote

Voter registration requirements for Illinois simply state that you must be a U.S. citizen, must be at least 18 years old by Election Day, and must have been a resident of your election precinct for at least 30 days. However, you cannot register if you are currently convicted and in jail.

If you want to register in person, you can register at your County Clerk's office, local Board of Election's office, any city/village/township offices or even at military recruitment offices. Depending on your community, you may also be able to register to vote at some schools, public libraries, labor group offices or corporations. See the links below to find out where you can register in your community.

If you register in person, you must bring two forms of identification with one showing your current residence address.

Before you start making excuses again, I'll make it even easier for you: You can also register by mail. Download an Illinois voter registration form from the Illinois State Board of Elections page. Fill out the one page form and mail it to your local county clerk's office.

Don't know the name or address of your county clerk? The Illinois State Board of Elections website also has this handy list with addresses and contact information for every county in the state. Now all you need to do is find an envelope and a stamp.

You will know you are registered when you receive your voter registration card in the mail within a few weeks of registering. If you registered by mail, bring your voter registration card with you on Election Day because you may be asked to show it. If you registered in person, however, you do not need to bring it.

If you are already registered to vote in Illinois, you do not need to re-register unless you move to a different address or change your name. You can download the same form to make these changes.

Q: I already registered, but I haven't received my voter ID card. How can I check my registration status?

If you are registered in Chicago, you can check your registration status at the website for the Chicago Board of Elections. Just enter your address here. If you find you are listed as "Inactive," call 312/269-7923 to find out how to fix your status.

For Illinois residents outside of Chicago, check your registration status by visiting the website for your county listed below or by calling your local County Clerk's office -- again the contact list can be found here on the Illinois State Board of Elections website.

Q: How do I know where to go to vote on Election Day?

Again, if you are in Chicago, visit the Chicago Board of Elections website and enter your address in this Polling Place Locator to find out where to go.

Outside of Chicago, check out the links below or contact your County Clerk's office.

Web Resources

Illinois State Board of Elections
Your first stop for voting and election information is this website for the Illinois State Board of Elections. You will find a wealth of information here to get you started. Look up your address to find out what election districts you live in and who your current local officials are.

The Board of Election Commissioners for the City of Chicago is moving to a new website, and this site is clunky and badly designed, but it still includes plenty of useful information including a polling place locator module. Enter your address to find out where you can show up to vote on November 2.

Suburban Cook County
The Cook County Clerk's Office has an award-winning website for election information for suburban Cook County residents. If you live in suburban Cook County, "you can access a virtual ballot, locate your polling place and view an online voter guide to learn more about candidates" by simply entering your address. In addition, you can check your voter registration status online if you're not sure whether you are registered.

DuPage County
On this page from the DuPage County Election Commission, you may check your registration status, view a sample ballot, download the voter application form, view voter FAQs, get a list of candidates, and see a list of propositions for the General Primary Election.

Kane County
In addition to the general registration information, Kane County residents can view a list of candidates with petitions, download a form for filing objections, read a list of referenda for the General Primary Election, and find their nearest polling place.

Lake County
This website from the County Clerk's office of Lake County includes voter registration information and links to other election-related services.

McHenry County
The McHenry County Clerk's website includes a list of all the deputy registrars in the county broken down by suburb. Find the registrar nearest you to register in person to vote in McHenry County. Deputy registrars may include village and township officials, school officials, or librarians at your local public library.

Will County
Along with a list of voter FAQ's, this site for the Office of the Will County Clerk also includes the ability to find your nearest polling place by looking up your address.

So, no more excuses now. Fill out that form and go find a stamp. And remember, as the McHenry County Clerk reminds us, "It Is Your Right To Vote! Please Do Not Forfeit That Right."

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About the Author(s)

Alice Maggio is a real, live Chicago librarian. If you have topic ideas or questions you would like answered, send your suggestions to and it may be featured in a future column.

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