Rock the vote with Crier’s voting guide

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On March 20, a primary election will be held in Illinois to determine the candidates for governor, attorney general, and several other offices. Although the winners of these races will not be determined until the general election on November 6, the primary is still an important part of the democratic process, as it decides which candidates will represent each party in the general election. Voting in the primary allows people to express their candidate preferences before the candidate pool gets narrowed down, and although the process may seem daunting to first-time voters, it is actually quite straightforward. Here is a brief guide to the election and voting process.

The race
Multiple offices will be determined by the upcoming election. The highest-profile race is the gubernatorial race, but there are also candidates running for the offices of Illinois Attorney General, Cook County President, Cook County Treasurer, Cook County Assessor, Cook County Clerk, Cook County Board of Commissioners, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Board of Commissioners, and seats in the Illinois Senate and House of Representatives. There are many candidates running in total, but information about each race and candidate is available online.

Who can vote
There are several requirements people must meet to be eligible to vote. First, voters must be U.S. citizens. Voters must live in their appropriate precinct–the area that they are registered to vote in–30 days prior to the election. Voters must be at least 18 years of age by the date of the general election to vote in the primary. This means that 17-year-olds are able to vote as long as they will turn 18 before November 6.

Registering to vote
Voter registration can be completed online here. The process takes less than ten minutes. The deadline to register online is February 21. After February 21, registration must be carried out in person at designated sites such as the county clerk’s office. In order to register in person, voters must be 18 and provide two forms of identification. Appropriate identification can include a driver’s license, paycheck, or social security number. After registering to vote, you will be sent a voter ID card by mail, although you are not required to bring this card with you to vote.

Voting
The primary is an open primary, meaning that voters can decide which party they wish to vote for on the day of the election. When you register to vote, you will be assigned to the polling place closest to your home. You can see which polling place you should go to here. Polling places will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the day of the primary. When you go to the polling place on voting day, be sure to bring some form of ID, such as a driver’s license. Voters who are unable to vote in person can request absentee ballots through the mail until March 15.

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