Do you have a week nine “midterm” that you need to cram for? Do you have six club meetings, four social events, three papers and a lot of Facebook notifications to check? Have you gotten less than six hours of sleep combined the last three nights?
If your answer to any or all of these questions is yes, you might have forgotten that your state’s primary or your opportunity to register as an absentee voter have passed. You may have conducted a brief Google search and found that voter registration in Illinois has closed. You may be disappointed, thinking that even though you consider yourself someone who cares about politics, another year will pass when you let your busy life as a student get in the way of political participation.
WAIT - It’s not too late. Voters ages 18 to 29 are turning out in higher numbers than ever before, according to The New York Times. For the first time, young voters constitute just as large a proportion of the electorate as the baby boomers - both generations make up about one-third. Join your peers, and participate in democracy!
Here are the most important details to know about registering to vote in the Illinois primary:
Even though technically voter registration has already closed, it really hasn’t.
Illinois has what is sometimes referred to as grace period registration and voting. This is a system that was put in place for people who want to be able to vote but who missed the registration date.
1. You can participate in grace period registration voting right here in Evanston.
The Evanston Civic Center is one of the official locations where grace period registration takes place. The Evanston Civic Center is located at 2100 Ridge Avenue. NU Votes will be shuttling students from Norris to Evanston Civic Center on Wednesday, March 9 and Tuesday, March 10 between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. Shuttles will run every 20 minutes.
2. You must present two valid forms of I.D. in order to register to vote.
The Cook County Clerk’s office said that those wishing to register to vote must present one form of photo I.D. and one form of I.D. that proves residency in Illinois. This may be a piece of mail addressed to an Illinois address with your name or a bill that includes your name and address. The Cook County Clerk’s office lists the following as acceptable forms of I.D.:
- 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
- Lease or rental contract
3. Once you register for grace period voting, you will cast your vote right then and there.
The Evanston Civic Center is open at the following times for grace period registration. Make sure that when you go to register to vote, you are also prepared to cast your vote at that time.
Monday - Friday opportunities:
9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Today - March 4
March 7 - March 11
9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
4. You can only vote on either the Democratic or Republican ballot, but that doesn’t mean you need to be a member of either of those parties.
If you want to become a registered Democrat or Republican, you can do so when you register to vote. If you have already registered to vote, you must fill out a new voter registration form. Party affiliation is an option on the form you complete when you register to vote.
5. Stay informed - the presidential primary is NOT the only important election taking place on March 15!
There are 121 candidates running for 55 offices and 10 ballot measures you can vote on. Besides the presidential primary, you will have the opportunity to vote for the U.S. Congress, Illinois Congress, judges and more. Voter’s Edge Illinois provides a non-partisan guide of all candidates and ballot measures.
The highly anticipated State’s Attorney election will also take place on March 15. The State’s Attorney is in charge of prosecuting all misdemeanor and felony crimes in Cook County. Anita Alvarez has held the position since 2008, but she came under serious fire after taking over a year to file charges against Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke who infamously shot and killed Laquan McDonald, a Black Chicago teen, in 2014. Democrats Kim Foxx and Donna Moore and republican Christopher E.K. Pfannkuche are challenging Alvarez for the office.
Now that you know what it takes to make your voice heard on March 15, don’t be a slacktivist, vote in the primary!