The following question was submitted to John Roska, an attorney/writer whose weekly newspaper column, "The Law Q&A," runs in the Champaign News Gazette.
Is there a deadline to register to vote in the November election? Or is same-day registration allowed? Do I have to have an ID to register, or to vote?
There's still same-day registration. It's better to register before the October 11 "deadline" for traditional registration, but you can still register after that, and on election day, November 8, 2016.
You don't need an ID unless you're voting for the first time after registering by mail.
Illinois law used to prohibit registering to vote during the 27 days before an election. That old law is still on the books, but was made obsolete in 2015 by a new law that permits "grace period" voter registration up to and including election day.
Up to that "deadline" on October 11, you can register to vote in person, by mail, or on-line. Once the grace period begins on October 12, you can only register in-person.
So, you have more ways to register to vote before October 12. And things are more likely to go smoothly if you do, since "grace period" voting is still new and different. In some places, it may still cause confusion, or even resistance.
If do you want to register to vote during the "grace period," starting October 12, you have to do it at the County Clerk, or at other locations the Clerk establishes. On election day, same-day registration may only be possible at certain locations, so check with your Clerk ahead of time.
You can also change address during the "grace period." If you want to register, or change address, and vote during the grace period, before election day, you have to do it all on the same day. Otherwise, you can register or change address during the "grace period," before November 8, and show up to vote on election day.
Registering during the "grace period" requires the same stuff as traditional voter registration: 2 forms of identification, one of which shows your permanent residence. The general qualifications to vote are: US citizen, 18 on election day, and residing in the election district for 30 days prior to November 8.
Early voting starts September 29, before the "grace period." So between September 29 and October 11, you can vote early, but only if you're already registered to vote. Early voting and same-day registration is only possible during the "grace period," after October 11.
An early vote is your final vote. You can't change it before election day. That goes for all early voting, regardless of how you registered to vote.
Early voting must be done in-person, at designated locations. Voting by mail (absentee ballots) is also possible. You must apply. The County Clerk started accepting applications August 10, and the last day they can receive them is November 3. Votes by mail must be postmarked no later than November 8.
Note: If you registered to vote by mail, you can't vote the first time by mail, unless you jump through some extra hoops to verify your identity. Otherwise, you must vote in-person, and show an ID. But that's the only time an ID can be required to vote.