CHICAGO (CBS) — Other states have been going to the polling places and casting votes in this primary election season, and now it’s Illinois residents’ turn to start the process.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports, Thursday is the first day Illinois residents can apply for a vote-by-mail ballot in Illinois.

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“Like early voting, you don’t need a reason or excuse to absentee vote, so you can vote in your living room,” said Jim Allen, a spokesman for the Chicago Board of Elections. “With this past municipal election – the mayoral election – it went up to 24,000. That’s the highest number in seven years.”

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Three Chicagoans have cast ballots already. They are in the military overseas.

Once you have applied, a ballot will be mailed to you. You must have it postmarked by March 19 in order for it to count.

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LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports