Langdon D. Neal, Chairman
Richard A. Cowen, Secretary/Commissioner
Marisel A. Hernandez, Commissioner
Lance Gough, Executive Director
Kelly Bateman, Asst. Executive Director
What are Judges of Election?
Judges of election are the officials who are responsible for the conduct of the election in the precinct polling place. The judges of election are the backbone of the electoral process. Their jobs are challenging, interesting and personally rewarding.
In each precinct, the judges share in responsibilities, duties and authorities that include:
(1) Opening the polling place and setting up voting equipment at 5 a.m. on Election Day;
(2) Conducting a fair, impartial and secure election in the precinct polling place, allowing voting from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
(3) Tabulating the vote totals for the precinct and transmitting the results to Election Central after the polls close at 7 p.m.
Requirements to Serve as a Judge of Election
Judges of Election must meet all of these requirements. Judges of Election must:
- Be registered voters in Cook County (U.S. citizens at least 18 years of age);
- Be able to speak, read and write English;
- Be able to perform basic math;
- Be of good understanding and capable;
- Not be a committeeman, precinct captain or candidate and must agree not to serve as a judge if they become one;
- Notify the Board of Elections if a person who shares his or her residence becomes a candidate, and must not serve as a judge in that election in any precinct where that candidate is on the ballot;
- Be of good repute and character and not a registered sex offender anywhere in the United States and not have committed a crime that would require registering as a sex offender anywhere in the United States;
- Agree that information on the application to serve as a Judge of Election will be used, if needed, to update the voter registration record;
- Agree that if the judge applicant is removed as an election judge due to misbehavior, neglect of duty or other cause, the person will not be paid for training or election day service;
- Agree that if a person fails to perform all of the services required of a judge, the compensation may be reduced accordingly;
- Agree that by law, the name, address and party affiliation are subject to public disclosure; and,
- Agree that the Board of Elections may use any personal data provided in the Judge Application for the Board's internal operations.
Application to Serve as Judge of Election
The NEW Judge of Election application is available here. This application is for the two-year term that starts with the 2012 General Election. (NOTE: This form may not be used for those participating in the High School Student Judge program. Please refer to the information below on the Student Judge program.)
Be sure to include your:
- Home Address
- Home Ward
The Democratic or Republican committeeperson in each ward has the ability to assign qualified judges for their respective parties for each precinct in that ward. Judge of Election applications without the signature of a committeeperson will be considered: (1) if there are vacancies not filled by the local committeeperson; (2) if the prospective Judge of Election is willing to work in another precinct if all of the judge positions are filled in his or her home precinct.
Mail completed forms to:
ATTN: JUDGES DEPARTMENT
CHICAGO ELECTION BOARD
69 W WASHINGTON ST STE 600
CHICAGO IL 60602-3006
Judges of Election are paid $170 only upon completion of training and service on Election Day.
Extra compensation is also paid to judges who:
- Pick up the Election Judge key envelope on either the Saturday or Sunday prior to Election Day;
- Allow the use of the judge's cell phone (by all judges within the polling place) on Election Day;
- Return the election materials to a receiving station on election night (to be determined by all judges on Election Day.)
- Serve additional days in absentee voting, nursing-home voting or in post-election counting activities in the warehouse.
Income earned by election judges and other election workers is subject to federal income tax; however, such income is not subject to income tax withholding. Those few election judges and election workers who earn $600 or more in any calendar year for multiple election assignments will receive an IRS Form W-2 at the end of the year. Election judges and election workers who also are employed by the City of Chicago or the County of Cook will receive a Form W-2 that will include income earned for election duties even if less than $600 annually. All individuals who may be eligible to receive a Form W-2 must complete and submit to the Board IRS Form W-4. Click here for the IRS Form W-4.
Training & Materials
Below are links to the Handbook for Judges of Election
High School & College Student Judges of Election
The Board of Election Commissioners for the City of Chicago is proud to lead the United States in hiring high school and college students to serve as judges and many college-age students to provide technical support. In the 2008 and 2010 elections, more than 4,000 students helped administer elections in Chicago.
High School and College Student Judges of Election hold the same responsibilities and authority and receive the same pay as other Judges of Election. Students may begin to serve as early as their junior year in high school, even before they are registered to vote, so long as they have a 3.0 grade-point average, sign-off from a parent/guardian and sign-off from a principal/college advisor.