2012 Primary Election Overview

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(From the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners)


The March 20, 2012 Primary Election will nominate candidates to a variety of offices at the federal, state and local levels. In addition to party nominations, voters in all 50 wards will elect ward committeemen and delegates to the Republican and Democratic parties’ conventions.

Because it is a primary election to nominate candidates for political parties, voters must declare a party affiliation. All wards will offer Democratic or Republican ballots. Only certain wards with committeeman contests will offer Green Party ballots. There also will be a non-partisan ballot in a limited number of precincts in the 35th and 46th Wards that have advisory referendum questions.

To ensure a trouble and fraud-free election, the Chicago Election Board will have more than 200 investigators assigned to Election Day duty. This will include roving investigators assigned to every ward who will be making unannounced inspections of polling places – and investigators who are assigned to respond to calls for assistance.

Voters who witness anything irregular or encounter a problem on Election Day are urged to call the Board’s “Election Central” hotline at (312) 269-7870. These telephone lines will be staffed by Board personnel and attorneys versed in election law. “Election Central” hotlines will be operational on Election Day only.

On Election Day, registered voters may cast ballots only at the polling place assigned to their precinct. Voters who cast ballots in Grace Period Voting or Early Voting cannot return to change their votes. Lists of voters who have already cast ballots will be supplied to every polling place.

69 West Washington Street, Suites 600/800, Chicago IL 60602 ● 1.312.269.7900 ● fax 1.312.263.3649 ● TTY 1.312.269.0027 chicagoelections.com ● email: cboe@chicagoelections.com

Election Board Chairman Langdon D. Neal said voters are strongly encouraged to check their sample ballots and polling places before going to the polls. “Because of recent re-districting, millions of voters across Illinois will be in new local, state and federal election districts. If you can, please visit your local election agency web site to review a sample ballot before you go to the polls.”

The Chicago Election Board web site at www.chicagoelections.com gives voters their: 

  • ·Voter registration status
  • · Polling place for that precinct, with a map
  • · Sample ballots for the Democratic and Republican parties, and, where applicable, the Green Party.
  • · Absentee or early-voting ballot status.

For more information before Election Day, voters may visit other sections of the web site or call (312) 269-7900.

New Texting System to Find Your Polling Place

The Election Board also has introduced a new system for Chicago voters to find their polling places by texting the simplified version of their Chicago address (such as 1000 W Washington) to 312-361-8846. The system will send a text with the name and address of the polling place. Voters should text only the basic street address – and not a name, unit, city or ZIP code.

Absentee Ballot Postmark Deadline: Mon., March 19

Absentee voters must return their ballots with a postmark no later than Mon., March 19. Absentee ballots can be counted even if they arrive up to two weeks after the election on April 3. However, absentee ballots postmarked after March 19 cannot be counted.

Voters whose absentee ballots do not arrive in time or whose ballots cannot be returned by that deadline must go to the Polling Place and either surrender their absentee ballot to the Judges of Election and/or sign an affidavit to cast a ballot.

Voter Registration Rolls

A total of 1,288,293 Chicagoans are registered to vote in the upcoming election. The city has 2,369 precincts.

To prepare for the Primary Election, the Election Board completed a mail canvass in the fall and winter of 2011 to determine whether any voters had moved. Under federal law, any voters who might be listed as “inactive” can easily restore their voting rights on Election Day in the polling place by simply showing identification and signing an affidavit to show that they still live at the addresses listed on their registrations.

Also, persons who claim to be legally registered but whose registration records cannot be found may vote a provisional ballot. This ballot will be kept separately. The voter has two days to submit proof of their registration, and the election authority then has 14 days from the election to determine if the voter was qualified and whether that ballot can be added to the count. Ballots cast by eligible voters are then added to the election totals. Two to three weeks after the election, the status of all provisional ballots will be available for voters to check on the Board’s web site.

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