Board of Election Commissioners for the City of Chicago


Langdon D. Neal, Chairman
Richard A. Cowen, Secretary/Commissioner
Marisel A. Hernandez, Commissioner

Lance Gough, Executive Director
Kelly Bateman, Asst. Executive Director

Home > Information > 2014: Frequently Asked Questions

2014 Primary: Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  Who will be eligible to vote in the March 18 Primary Election?
A:  Those eligible to vote will be registered voters. Under a new law, eligibility to register to vote and cast a ballot in the March 18, 2014 Primary will be extended to any U.S. citizen who will be at least 18 years of age on or before Nov. 4, 2014.  In other words, 17-year-olds, who will be 18 on or before the Nov. 4, 2014 General Election, will be able to register starting Jan. 1, 2014 and then vote in the March 18, 2014 Primary.

Q:  Do I have to declare a political party in order to vote a ballot?
A:  Yes, in the March 18 Illinois Primary, a voter must declare which political-party ballot that they wish to vote.  In this election, voters will have the choice of a Democratic or Republican ballot. If there are one or more referenda questions in a voter's precinct, a voter may ask for a non-partisan ballot that will contain only the referenda question(s) but no candidates.

Asking for a political party ballot only determines which ballot you will cast in that primary. It has no effect on how you can vote in future elections or primaries.

NOTE: If you select a nonpartisan ballot, there will be NO candidates. If you ask for the nonpartisan ballot in error, go back to the judge to ask to spoil that ballot to obtain the party ballot that you want.  After you have cast the ballot - either in the touch screen or by entering a paper ballot into the scanner, there's no going back. 

Q:  Are there Independent candidates on any of the ballots?
A:   No, there will be only candidates seeking their respective party's nominations in the Democratic and Republican primaries.

Q: What does a "Federal Office Only" or "Fail Safe" ballot contain?
A:  The Federal Offices on a "Federal Office Only" or "Fail Safe" ballot are: 
 - United States Senator
 - Representative in Congress

Q:  Why is there a "Fail Safe" ballot with Federal Offices Only?
A:  A person who moved from his/her registration address more than 30 days prior to the election and who DID NOT re-register may vote a "Fail Safe" ballot.  The move must be in the same election jurisdiction, i.e. from one address in Chicago to another address in Chicago, or from one address in suburban Cook to another in suburban Cook.  The individual must return to the polling place for the old address where he/she was registered to vote AND there must still be a record of that person's registration in the former precinct.

If the person moved from Suburban Cook County into Chicago (or vice versa) or from one county to another, they are NOT eligible to vote a Fail Safe ballot.

Q:  Similar to Early Voting, can a voter go to any site in Chicago to vote?
A:  NO, on Election Day, voters must vote at their assigned polling place.

Q:  What is a Provisional Ballot? When are Provisional Ballots counted?
A:  If the judges cannot locate a voter registration record for a person in that precinct, the judges:
a)   May perform a "citywide search" in the Electronic Poll Book to determine if the voter is in a different precinct and can print out the name and address of the polling place for that precinct; or,
b)   May try to verify that the person's address is within the precinct by looking at the precinct map, precinct outline, poll list or by calling the registration hotline.

If the voter insists on voting at that location, even after being told that the voter is in the wrong precinct, the judges must inform the voter that if the voter casts a Provisional Ballot in the wrong precinct, some or all of their ballot selections may not be counted, depending on the reason for the provisional ballot.

Reasons for voting a Provisional Ballot include:

a)  No registration record found in the precinct;

b)  Voter is challenged and the judges uphold the challenge;

c)  Voter who is required to provide ID but does not have proper ID.

Provisional ballots are separated from others cast on Election Day.

After Election Day, Board employees evaluate provisional ballot applications in a public process to determine whether the corresponding ballot can be released into the count.  A provisional voter will have 7 calendar days after Election Day to deliver any documents to prove registration or to supply identification in the event the validity of a registration was questioned. After that time, any documents or evidence cannot be considered.

Q:  Do employers have to give employees time off from work to vote?
A:  Yes, employees are entitled to two hours off work, if:

a)  The employee gives their employer notice prior to election day (the Election Code does not specify what type of notice is required);

b)  The employer may specify the hours during which the employee may be absent;

c)   The employer must permit a 2-hour absence during hours if the employee's working time begins starts before 7:59 a.m. (within two hours of the open of polls) and the end time is after 5:01 p.m. within two hours of the close of polls).

No employer shall refuse an employee the privilege of time off from work nor subject the employee to a penalty, including a reduction in compensation due to such an absence from work.

Q:  If I make a mistake while voting, can I correct it? 
A:  If you have not cast your ballot yet and you notice a mistake in your selections on the touch screen, go back and touch that choice again and then make the selection you intended.  If you make a mistake on a paper ballot, you must ask the judge for a new paper ballot.

Q: If I voted in Early Voting and changed my mind, can I vote again on Election Day to cancel out my first ballot?
A:  No. Once a voter casts a ballot, the voter cannot cast another ballot. If you make a mistake and discover it before casting your ballot, you may correct it on the touch screen - or ask the judge for a new paper ballot.