FAQ for organizers

What's the difference between Online registration, Mail-in registration, and being a deputy registrar?

A deputy registrar has completed a training, and uses a yellow cardstock form (with a green copy behind it) to register voters. The deputy is authorized to verify an applicant's two ID documents - one of which shows current residence address. Both the deputy and the applicant sign the yellow form.

Since the deputy has already confirmed residence and ID, when the applicant first goes to vote they will only need to sign in by signature. No ID is needed to vote.

Mail-in registration uses any of several forms. Anyone can assist a potential voter in completing a mail-in form. The advantage is it's quick, doesn't need internet connectivity, and the registrar doesn't need special training.

The applicant should be alerted that the first time they go to vote, they might need to show two forms of ID, one of which shows current residence address (see more on ID below)

Online Voter Application is new and works for any applicant who has an Illinois Driver's License or State ID. The DMV already has the applicant's signature in their database, so they don't need to actually sign anything to use OVA.

You can use the Illinois OVA website to register for the first time, or to change address.

The voting address that you provide on OVA does not need to match the pre-existing residence address in the DMV database. (Although, if you've moved, you are also supposed to update the DMV database, which can also be done online at tinyurl.com/updateILdmv.) When a voter first goes to vote, they will need only their signature, no ID.

Pro tip - people can find the Online Voter Application website later by googling Illinois OVA – "ova like eggs". If you say that, no one can forget it, even if they want to. But there's a downside of OVA too - if you help someone complete a registration and mail it for them, it gets done. If they go off intending to do it online later, good chance not.

Why use the Add One Voter sheet, as opposed to other mail-in forms?

There are a number of forms for mail-in voter registration, and the Clerk's office will accept any of them. The Add One Voter sheet uses the mail-in form taken from the National Voter Registration Form, which is accepted by almost all the states. It has the additional advantage of being small. The Add One Voter sheet also includes a link and QR code to Illinois OVA.

The point of the Add One Voter form is that it gives a volunteer two shots at a person that they talk to. The volunteer can ask the person "are you registered" and if the answer is yes (yay!), go on to ask if that person knows someone else who ought to be registered. Then the volunteer can show the person how to use the Add One Voter sheet – either the online link or the mail-in form – and the volunteer gives it to the person to take home. Hopefully the person will get someone else registered, and that's also one step toward being more involved!

In any event, it's better to have an interaction that ends on a positive note: yes I can do that rather than no you can't help me. It's better for the volunteer and better for the person they've reached out to.

How do you become a deputy registrar? And can I register voters for a political group?

Deputy registrars must be sponsored by an organization. It may be a political organization, or a civic organization, or any organization. Organizations will usually be happy to sponsor you so you can be trained, even if you aren't a formal member – but check with them first. You can request a training for your organization: here's the Deputy Voter Registration Group Training Request.

You don't need to be a deputy registrar to do voter registration. You only need to be a deputy to use the special yellow forms that let you pre-verify ID & residence. Anyone, deputy or not, can help people register using mail-in forms, or online. See the first question.

It's OK to do voter registration in a partisan or political context (rally, meeting, door-to-door work for a candidate, etc.). This is true for deputies and volunteers alike. However, I and everyone I know make it a point of honor to be available to anyone at a given venue, treat all with respect, and drop all controversial discussion when handling registration for an individual. The deputy training manual is emphatic on this point too.

And of course be very diligent about mailing or returning the forms right away. Here's the actual rule on that: "Deputy registrars must return completed registration materials by first class mail within two business days or by personal delivery within seven days, which shortens to two days during the week before book-closing."

Can deputies in Cook County register voters in other counties?

Yes. Any registrar deputized in any county can register anyone in Illinois. Oddly, you can only take a training in the county you are registered to vote in. And in Cook County, it's even separated by City vs. Suburban. If you live in Cook County, you can get trained online here.

What's Automatic Voter Registration? Have I been automatically registered?

Probably not. If you want to know if you are registered, check at the Illinois OVA website

Now that Illinois has AVR, the next time you go to the DMV you are supposed to be asked about voter registration, and if eligible you will wind up registered unless you opt out. Over time a lot of people go to the DMV for something, so AVR will eventually make a big difference.

Am I still registered if I changed my address?

Probably, and you can check at the Illinois OVA website. If the registration rolls have been "cleaned" you may have been removed.

If you moved, you should change your voter registration address. You're supposed to vote at the proper polling place for your address, since the candidates on the ballot can differ even within a city, for instance if there are multiple wards within the city.

You can change your voting address at the Illinois OVA website if you have a driver's license or state ID. You will not have to provide evidence of your new address in order to update it, or in order to vote. Just go vote.

You are also supposed to change your address in the DMV database, which you can do at tinyurl.com/updateILdmv. This is not automatic; the voting database and the DMV database do not sync to each other.

If you don't have a driver's license or state ID, send in a new mail-in voter registration form.

During the "dead period" 30 days preceding an election you can't change your address, but you can go to the right polling place on election day and use Same Day Registration. Bring two IDs, one of which shows your new address. Find your polling place at the Illinois OVA website

How close to an election can I register?

Normal registration ends 30 days before an election, but you actually have lots of options remaining, up to and including election-day registration and voting. Illinois State Board of Elections PDF download explains all the options and dates.

Will a new (or moved) registrant need to show ID when they first go to vote?

If they provided their IL Driver's license number or State ID number, on the OVA website, or on the mail-in form, and the number can be matched up with the DMV database, then they will not need to show ID at the polls. This is true even if the claimed registration address does not match the DMV address. (People find this surprising, but it's true.)

A person registered by a deputy registrar has showed two IDs at the time of registration, so they won't need to show any ID at the polls either.

Nevertheless, any new (or moved) registrant would be wise to bring evidence of residence address, plus another form of ID, the first time they go to vote. In principle a judge of election can even ask for photo ID.

What forms of ID are acceptable?

Every eligible Illinois resident can vote. Illinois State Board of Elections PDF download explains all the ways and dates to register, and to vote.

Illinois does not require photo ID. The first time you vote you may be asked to show two forms of ID, one of which demonstrates your current residence address. In the box below is the standard list. A few notes:

  • If using a utility bill, it must be recent. (30 days)

  • Any recent postmarked mail that is delivered to you, showing name & address, will work.

  • The Certificate of Registration ("Voter Card") that was mailed to you is good evidence. But it is not required.

If you have supplied your drivers license or state ID number, on the online OVA website or on a mail-in application, you probably will not be asked to show ID (even if it's the first time you vote.)

Bring TWO forms of identification the first time you vote. One must have your current address.

You won't need this if you provided your driver's license or State ID number, and it matched up.

  • Illinois Driver’s license

  • Employee or student ID

  • Illinois State ID

  • Credit card

  • Social Security card

  • Birth certificate

  • Valid US passport

  • Public Aid ID card

  • Recent Utility bill in the applicant’s name

  • Recent mail postmarked to the applicant’s name & address

US citizens convicted of crimes CAN VOTE in Illinois once released from custody.