Illinois Absentee Ballot Guide

Last updated September 02, 2014
Military and Overseas voters should visit the Overseas Vote Foundation. Long Distance Voter's information should only be used by voters with US mailing addresses.

Important Deadlines

  • Voter Registration Form: Postmarked 28 days before the election. You can also go in-person to your local elections office to register and vote all at once during the "grace period," which ends 3 days before Election day.
  • Absentee Ballot Application: Received no later than 5 days before the election (by mail). Received by the day before the election (in person).
  • Voted Absentee Ballot: Postmarked the day before the election

Register to vote

Recommended: Use our Voter Registration Tool. Enter your information, print and sign the completed form, and mail it to the address printed on the form.  

You can also use the Illinois state registration form.  Mail your completed, signed, to your County Election Authority.

Verify your voter registration

It's best to verify your voter registration before applying for your absentee ballot.  If there's a problem with your registration, register again before proceeding.

NOTE: Most people receive their voter registration cards in the mail 2-3 weeks after registering to vote. Don't worry if you lost your voter registration card. You don't actually need it to vote.

Make sure you're eligible to vote by absentee ballot

Good news! Any registered any registered Illinois voter may vote by absentee ballot.

Please contact your Local Election Official if you have any questions about your eligbility to vote by absentee ballot.

Apply for your absentee ballot

Illinois state law dictates that absentee ballot applications cannot be made available until 40 days before an election. If it's 40 days or less until the election, you can contact your Local Election Authority and see if they have an online application.

You can also download the Illinois absentee ballot application.  Complete and sign your application, and return it to your Local Election Authority.  (The application has a section that says, "To be voted at the ______ Election."  Fill in the blank with the election date.)

Your application must be received at least 5 days before the election if you need your absentee ballot mailed to you.  You can submit your application in person up until the day before the election.

Disabled voters, nursing home residents, and care facility residents: 
You can use the Application for Illinois Absentee Voter's 5 Year Identification Card Form to automatically receive absentee ballot applications (not absentee ballots!) for every every election for the next five years.  We recommend submitting this form two months before the next election (since they'll respond by mailing you an application, and not an actual absentee ballot).  If it's less than 40 days until the next election, submit a regular absentee ballot application as well. 

Receive, vote and return your absentee ballot

Your county election authority will process your application and mail you an absentee ballot within one day of receiving your application.  Fill out your ballot in secret, insert the ballot into the provided envelope, and seal it.  Complete and sign the certification on the back and mail the completed absentee ballot to your Local Election Authority.  Your absentee ballot MUST be postmarked the day before the election.  Election judges of both parties will confirm the signature on your application with the signature on your voter registration form, much like what is done on election day.  If the signatures don't match, your absentee ballot will be rejected.  If they do, your vote will be counted!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to provide ID when I register to vote in Illinois?

Yes.  If you register to vote in person you must show two forms if identification, including one which shows your current Illinois address.  If you register to vote by mail, you can meet the ID requirements by putting your Illinois driver's license number or Illinois state ID card number on the form.  If you don't have either of those, include a copy of a current and valid photo identification, or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check, or other government document that shows your name  and address.

You can also meet the ID requirements by showing a photo ID issued by an Illinois college or university AND a copy of your Illinois lease or any postmarked mail delivered to the your at your current residence address.

Do I need to provide ID when I vote by absentee ballot in Illinois?

No. You can only vote by absentee ballot in Illinois if you've already met the voter ID requirements.

When should I apply for my absentee ballot in Illinois?

Illinois has strict timelines in which to apply for your absentee ballot:

  • Absentee By-Mail - Not more than 40 days nor less than 5 days prior to the election
  • Absentee In-Person - Not more than 40 days nor less than 1 day prior to the election.

Can I vote by absentee ballot on a permanent basis in Illinois?

In most cases, no.  Disabled voters, nursing home residents, and care facility residents can use the Application for Absentee Voter's 5 Year Identification Card form to automatically receive absentee ballot applications (not absentee ballots!) for every election for the next 5 years. 

I need an emergency absentee ballot.  Help!

If you are admitted to a health care facility (hospital, nursing home, or rehabilitation center) less than five days before the election, you can apply for an emergency absentee ballot. The form is called the “Application for Ballot for Qualified Voter Admitted to Hospital, Nursing Home or Rehabilitation Center.”  You must contact your Local Election Authority to request this form. 

You must complete the application and your physician must complete and sign the “Certificate of Attending Physician” section of the application.  After the form is completed and signed by you and your physician, a registered voter from your precinct or your relative can then hand deliver the application to your Local Election Authority.  The county election authority will provide the absentee ballot to the person who delivered your application.  Once you receive the ballot, vote the ballot in secret and complete the certification on the absentee ballot return envelope.  Give your voted absentee ballot back to the person who delivered your application. This person must return your voted ballot to your Local Election Authority.

Can I vote in person before election day in Illinois?

YES!  Illinois offers two forms of early voting: 1. Absentee in-person, which takes place at County Clerks' offices and 2. Traditional early voting at various locations in each county.  Learn more on our Early Voting page. 

Additional Information

State Election Website:
Local Election Officials: Your Local Election Official is the best person to contact if you have questions.  They'll be able to provide up-to-date information on rules and deadlines. 


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