A tight contest for the presidential nominations and competitive races for seats in the General Assembly could make for a gripping primary in Illinois next month. Deadlines loom if you plan to be a part of it.
Some voters already have mailed in their ballots; early voting in Illinois began Feb. 4 and runs right up until a day before the March 15 primary.
A new state law requires that early voting open more than a month before elections. Some election clerks had trouble meeting that early deadline due to petition challenges that had to be decided first; but all should be prepared now -- or will be soon.
Of course, to vote early you have to be registered. Time's running out to do that.
If you don't want to have to go to the election office to register, hurry: The deadline to register online is Tuesday, Feb 16.
If you miss that deadline, never fear. Grace-period registration begins Wednesday, Feb. 17, at select places and continues through the day of the primary. There is a caveat: When you go that route, you have to cast your ballot right then and there.
That can prove troublesome if you rush to get it done. Already, some of the presidential candidates whose names you'll see (particularly if you pull a Republican ballot) have dropped out of the race, and there could be more of that to come.
Finally, while the voting age in Illinois is still 18, certain teenagers can take advantage of a law passed in 2014. For the first time in a presidential election, that law allows 17 year-olds to vote in the primary if their birthdays come before the November 8 general election.