Every vote matters and your voice deserves to be heard. If you are transgender, non-binary, or gender non-conforming, you may have had problems in the past with someone questioning your identity because of your name, gender marker, or photo on your ID or you may simply be nervous about whether this might happen. No one should question you about your identity, but this guide should help you if they do. We’ve compiled some Frequently Asked Questions for transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming voters in Illinois.
How do I vote? Why should I?
The ACLU of Illinois has some helpful resources about how (and why) to vote: https://www.aclu-il.org/en/campaigns/vote-your-rights-depend-it
What if I don’t look like my ID photo anymore?
No problem. Except in certain situations listed below, voters do not need to show any form of identification to vote. Even in the limited situations where a poll worker may ask to see your ID, you are never required to show photo ID to vote in Illinois.
If you are asked for identification, you can show a utility bill or bank statement in your name, social security card, public aid card, LINK card, credit/debit card, or any other document that Illinois accepts. See here for a list of forms of ID accepted in Illinois: https://www.cookcountyclerk.com/service/when-voters-do-and-dont-need-identification-id and https://www.elections.il.gov/Downloads/ElectionInformation/PDF/registervote.pdf
If you do show the poll worker a photo ID, they should not be looking at the gender marker to verify your identity. A poll worker cannot prevent you from voting just because you don’t look like your picture or what the poll worker thinks you “should” look like based on your name or gender marker.
What do I do if a poll worker asks to see an ID?
As a general rule, if you are already registered to vote and you are voting in your precinct, you do not need an ID to vote.
There are a few situations where a poll worker can ask to see an ID. For example:
- If you are registering to vote in person on Election Day, you’ll need to bring two (2) forms of ID – including one that shows your current address.
- If you’re already registered to vote, but you registered without providing a driver’s license number, State of Illinois identification number, or Social Security number, you’ll need to bring one (1) form of ID.
- If the poll worker thinks your signature does not look like the signature they have on file, you may need to show one (1) form of ID.
For this reason, it might be a good idea to bring some form of ID just in case, but it is generally not required. Illinois accepts many different kinds of IDs to show your name and/or address, including a utility bill, bank statement, social security card, public aid card, LINK card, credit/debit card, or student ID. See here for a list of forms of ID accepted in Illinois: https://www.cookcountyclerk.com/service/when-voters-do-and-dont-need-identification-id and https://www.elections.il.gov/Downloads/ElectionInformation/PDF/registervote.pdf.
If you bring any of these documents with you, make sure they match your name and current address.
If you need to show ID for one of the reasons above, but do not have sufficient identification with you, you can go home and get the ID you need and return to the polls.
As a last resort, if you can’t get any of these forms of ID in time to vote, you can still cast a provisional ballot. If you cast a provisional ballot, you’ll need to follow up with your local election authority with additional information for your ballot to be counted and to make sure your ballot was counted. More information on provisional ballots here: https://www.elections.il.gov/downloads/electioninformation/pdf/provvotingil.pdf
But remember: Illinois never requires a photo ID. If a poll worker asks for one, don’t be afraid to tell them that Illinois does not require a photo ID to vote and report it to the National Election Protection Hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683).
What if I changed my name since I last registered to vote?
If you have legally changed your name through the Secretary of State office (but live in the same precinct) since you last registered to vote, you’ll need to either (1) re-register to vote or (2) vote in person (instead of by mail) and sign an affidavit that swears that you are who you say you are. https://www.elections.il.gov/votinginformation/faq.aspx
If you have legally changed your name and moved to a different address, you need to update your information by re-registering to vote. For more information about what to do if you moved, see here: https://www.elections.il.gov/Downloads/ElectionInformation/PDF/registervote.pdf
If you re-register to vote under your new name, make sure you bring ID documents that match your new name and current address.
How do I register to vote or update my voter registration?
Illinois has in-person, online, and Election Day registration. Meaning you can register any time before or even on Election Day in order to vote. More information can be found here: https://www.elections.il.gov/Downloads/ElectionInformation/PDF/registervote.pdf
- If you live in Chicago, you can register or re-register to vote at any early voting site or do it when you show up to vote on Election Day at your precinct polling place. You’ll need to bring two (2) forms of ID. The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners website has more information about how to find your polling place, along with other information about registering to vote: https://chicagoelections.com/en/your-voter-information.html
- If you live outside of Chicago, check with your local election authority to find out where you can register – each county is required to have a least one location open during early voting and on Election Day.
Tip for future elections: if you legally change your name at the Secretary of State’s office, you can ask them to update your voter registration at the same time. You can also do it online if you do it early enough before the election.
What happens if the poll worker still isn’t letting me vote?
Call the National Election Protection Hotline and tell them what is going on.
- English: 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683)
- Español: 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682)
- Asian & Pacific languages: 888-API-VOTE (888-274-8683)
- Arabic: 844-YALLA-US (844-925-5287)
- American Sign Language video call number: 301-818-VOTE (301-818-8683)
Fight for your right to vote. If all else fails, demand to vote by provisional ballot. If you cast a provisional ballot, you’ll need to follow up with your local election authority with additional information for your ballot to be counted and to determine if your ballot was counted. More information here: https://www.elections.il.gov/downloads/electioninformation/pdf/provvotingil.pdf
More resources here: