Election FAQ: Do I Have To Pick a Political Party When I Vote in The March Primary?

Election FAQ: Do I Have To Pick a Political Party When I Vote in The March Primary?

  • Editor’s Note: This article is based on questions from readers and information provided on the Kane County Clerk’s Office election webpages. Kane County Connects encourages citizens to take part in the election process and to seek additional information sources to make informed voting decisions.

The following includes information is provided by Kane County Director of Elections Raymond C. Esquivel, the Kane County Clerk’s Office election website, the Illinois State Board of Elections, Ballotpedia and the Better Government Association.

Q: Do I have to declare a political party when I vote in the March 17 primary?

This question often comes from people who traditionally vote in one party’s primary but are interested in weighing in on the other party’s ticket — for example, a registered Republican who wants to vote for a Democratic candidate for president, or a registered Democrat who wants to vote for a Republican candidate in a local election.

The colloquial form of the question is, “Can I switch parties in the primary?”

A: The short answer is yes.

A voter in Illinois can request either a Republican or a Democratic ballot in the March 17 primary.

In some previous elections, primary ballots were avaiable for additional parties, such as the Green Party or the Libertarian Party, but Esquivel says it’s just Republican or Democratic ballots this time around.

The bottom line is you can choose whatever ballot you want — but not both.

The way it works is, a March 17 primary voter at any Kane County polling place will fill out a quick and easy application form to declare his or her party.

The election judges enter the voter’s ballot preference, then give you an access code that brings up the requested party affiliation on the voting screen. From there, you simply make your voting choices.

The Kane County Clerk’s Office has an outstanding resource that can help you decide which ballot you’d like to choose: personalized sample ballots, accessible through the Kane County Clerk’s Office election website. By checking out those sample ballots, you can determine your preference before you go to vote — and avoid any potential embarrassment at the polling place.

The Kane County elections website also has several FAQ articles to help you in the voting process. Links to those articles are posted below.

Q: Will my choice of parties in the primary be a matter of public record?

A side question people often ask is whether primary election voting history is information open to the public.

A: The short answer, again, is yes.

According to the Better Government Association, primary election voting history is publicly available.

Partisan groups and political operatives can’t see who you voted for, but they do have access to information on which party ballot you pulled.

Kane County Director of Elections Esquivel says, “When you declare a party, that will be your party until the next primary. (Anyone from) the public can ask for a walk list with history.”

Voting Information on Kane County Website

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