What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Vote

Welcome to the first-ever What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Vote (WTEWYETV) guide! This is a volunteer effort to share information about the in-person voting process in Chicago, with the goal of demystifying the actual steps required to cast a ballot. We were inspired to make this guide both by the introduction of new voting equipment (read more here) and by this helpful Reddit thread featuring instructions for going to Subway. This guide is only relevant for voters within the City of Chicago for the March 17th primary, does not include the voting by mail process, and is primarily based on poll worker training materials from the Chicago Board of Elections (CBOE).

We also have a text-only version if you use a screen reader, or otherwise just prefer text.

More info on voter registration here. Register to vote online by March 1st here.

Individuals who are currently in jail pre-trial — in other words, who have not been convicted of a crime — are also eligible to vote. Chicago Votes works directly with Cook County Jail to facilitate on-site voter registration and elections. They passed legislation to make Cook County Jail the first jail in the country that is an official early polling place! You can learn more here. You can also check out this fact sheet regarding voting with a criminal record, as well as a longer Know Your Rights guide.

More information on curbside voting, other accommodations and accessibility tools provided by the Board of Election Commissioners available here.

Extra info and resources

There’s a lot more to know about voting beyond the steps to casting your ballot. Here are a few resources that might help answer any lingering questions. We especially recommend taking a look at the voter guides, since there are plenty of important races on your ballot besides the presidential candidacy that aren’t getting the same press.

  1. What is a ward?
  2. What is a precinct? And what do Chicago’s precinct boundaries look like?
  3. How can I find out what ward and precinct I’m in? And what will my ballot look like?
  4. What’s up with the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court race? Read about it in this Chicago Mag article by Mari Cohen.
  5. Learn more about the different races and make your own guide on Ballot Ready and using the Better Government Association (BGA) tool.
  6. What could a progressive ballot look like? Consult Girl, I Guess by Stephanie Skora.
  7. Learn more about judicial races on the Injustice Watch and Chicago Votes guides.

Lastly! If you have any questions on Election Day, you can call Election Protection at 866-OUR-VOTE or Election Center at 1–312–269–7870 (or TTY 1–312–269–0027 for hearing impaired folks only).

If you have any questions before Election Day, you can email the Chicago Board of Elections at cboe@chicagoelections.net, or call 1–312–269–7858 (TTY 1–312–269–0027, again only for hearing impaired folks).

Who put this thing together?

Louisa Richardson-Deppe is into civic engagement and care networks. The March 17th primary election will be her fourth time serving as an CBOE Election Coordinator. When it’s not Election Day, Louisa spends her time leading community engagement projects at NowPow, volunteering with Chicago Abortion Fund and Chicago Votes, swimming in Lake Michigan, and reading on the CTA.

Ellie Mejía draws (for a few different folks) and works for City Bureau. Off the clock, Ellie likes to eat fruit and visit the geese at Palmisano Park.

Thanks to Alex Boutros and the Chicago Votes team for reviewing this guide before publication.

We want to hear from you! Please feel free to share any questions, comments, or feedback on this guide here.

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